By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, March 9, 2017, the Alabama House of Representative passed a bill to allow sheriffs in Alabama to pass some of their healthcare costs to Medicaid. Under current law the county Sheriff’s office is responsible for all of the costs of the healthcare of the prisoners in the county jail. Since Obamacare has greatly increased the cost of healthcare, providing prisoner healthcare has become a burden on Sheriff’s Departments across Alabama.
House Bill 211 would make Medicaid the payer when a sheriff has to transport a prisoner to a hospital or other outside facility for healthcare for more than 24 hours. SB211 is sponsored by State Representative Christopher John England (D-Tuscaloosa).
There was some concerns though that this could create another drain on the State’s General Fund as Medicaid is a joint Federal/State program. To protect the State’s long troubled General Fund Budget the bill was amended so that the sheriff’s department would still be responsible for the State’s portion of the Medicaid match.
Rep. England said that right now the county is responsible. The county would be only responsible for paying the State match not the whole amount.
State Representative Mary Moore (D-Birmingham) said that this would only apply to those prisoners who are already Medicaid eligible (when they were in a hospital or other facility outside of the jail).
Moore said that in a previous session that Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) brought a similar bill.
Rep. England said that his bill, “Would reduce the county outlay on healthcare,” for its jail inmates.
HB211 now will now move to the Alabama Senate for further consideration.
The bill would not apply to healthcare provided in the jail or for trips to the hospital or doctor that are not more than 24 hours. Inmates who are not covered by Medicaid would still get their healthcare provided by the county.