Jail's medical co-pay requirement questioned

2012-07-01T21:00:00Z 2012-07-02T14:38:05Z Jail's medical co-pay requirement questionedBy Bob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Porter County Public Defender Peter Boyles is questioning a decision by the Porter County Jail staff to take money from an indigent client to help pay for his medications.

The money was taken from a personal fund each inmate is entitled to hold to pay for toiletries, clothing, stationary products and food beyond the regular meals they are served.

"It doesn't seem fair at first glance," Boyles said.

Porter County Sheriff Dave Lain said a $15 co-pay is collected for each medical service to discourage needless visits and a burden on the limited resources.

"If it didn't cost them anything, everyone would be on sick call every day," he said.

The Porter County Board of Commissioners adopted a state code that says a co-pay of up to $15 may be collected from inmates for medical, dental and eye care, and any other health care related service.

The co-pay does not apply if the inmate has private insurance coverage or does not have money in their personal fund within 30 days after the care is provided, according to the ordinance. The money is also not collected if care is provided during an emergency or if the care is needed as a result of an injury at the jail or is ordered by the sheriff or jail administrator.

Boyles, who raised concern about the policy in court recently, said it does not seem fair someone can put a little money in an otherwise indigent inmate's account for postage or for special dietary needs only to have the jail take it for medications.

Lain said the jail is only required to provide inmates with the necessities of food, shelter and clothing. For inmates without money, the jail must also provide paper, a writing instrument and postage so they can communicate with their attorneys.

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