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Inmate medical bills creating budget issue for jail

Nov 24, 2017 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

It may only be the second quarter of the fiscal year, but the local Sheriff's office is already facing a budget issue after being slammed with high medical bills for inmates at the county jail.

Fremont County Sheriff Skip Hornecker said his office already has spent $171,000 of the $200,000 budgeted for the year's medical costs at the facility.

Required

The county is required to pay for all health coverage for inmates, unless the medical issue is self-induced or pre-existing.

Hornecker said "case law is pretty demanding" when it comes to requirements for health coverage.

Any neglect of medical attention could be a violation of the U.S. Constitution's 8th amendment, Hornecker added.

Hearing the data, Fremont County Commis-sioner Travis Becker said he's bothered by the strict requirements the county has.

"It bothers me to no end that these people who want to take advantage of society get better health care that I have," he said.

Hornecker said some of the medical costs are associated with addiction issues that have taken a toll on inmates' health.

"(The high costs are) caused by these people who normally don't take care of themselves when they're not in detention," Hornecker said.

The high numbers of inmates in the county jail has been a continuous concern in recent years.

When the jail reaches its capacity, the county pays other counties to hold its inmates.

Hornecker typically provides an update on the jail's population to the County Commission each month.

In recent months, the county's two circuit court judges, Robert Denhardt and Wesley Roberts, have both placed an emphasis on accelerating the movement of defendants through the judicial system.

Both have showed an increasing unwillingness to approve attorneys' requests to delay hearings.

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