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Request for more money for medical costs at jail withdrawn

A request for an additional $75,000 to cover medical costs at the Harrison County Jail was withdrawn Monday night.
Jail Commander Capt. Bruce LaHue said he doesn’t think the funding will be necessary once he has completed a review of bills and payments and returns for credit have been applied to the latest prescription drug bill.
In the past, some medical bills were paid by the jail when an inmate’s health insurance should have applied, including Medicaid, the state’s medical insurance for the poor.
The sheriff’s department will no longer be the first to ante up when an inmate gets medical treatment, and inmates will receive that treatment only when necessary to avoid an appearance of indifference, LaHue said.
‘The Golden Goose isn’t dead yet, but it’s dying,’ he told the council at its Monday night planning session.
If granted, the $75,000 would have brought the total spent this year for inmate medical expenses to $385,000, or considerably more than next year’s budget.
LaHue said if necessary, medical expenses left at the end of this year will be paid out of next year’s bud-get. That is set at $250,000 for medical care plus $20,000 for dental.
‘There will probably be a shortfall, but I don’t think it will be nearly that much money,’ he said.
Because he was hired to bring medical costs at the jail under control, LaHue said his job security is on the line.
‘If the health care budget is not less than last year, the sheriff may not keep me around,’ LaHue said.
In other matters Monday night, the council:
‘ Heard a request from the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau for $600,000 already collected by the state in tourism tax dollars.
‘Are there any current plans for money in capital development reserves?’ asked Council Chair Gary Davis.
CVB Executive Director Jim Epperson answered, ‘My understanding is, we are working toward a conference center.’
‘With the (former) Keller property being a potential site?’ Davis asked. ‘Yes,’ said Epperson and CVB board member Larry Bennett, in unison.