I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Medical Costs are Crushing Us at the Jail

At yesterday's budget workshop, we went through the corrections budget in detail.

The jail's medical costs are skyrocketing, the medical costs are crushing us at the jail.

Setting aside the fact that we have 250 more prisoners total in custody today compared to the day the jail blew up in April of 2014--the prisoners today are sicker than the prisoners from 2014--according to staff.  I have a hard time believing that but that is what staff told us point blank.

"In 2014--we had a total of only 10 dialysis treatments for our inmates ( a figure I question )--whereas today we have had more that 300" said one staff member.

My counterpart Steven Barry asked "What has changed between then and now--what has led to this increase?"  the response was "Today's inmates are sicker."  Is it really that they are sicker, or are we tripping over ourselves to over-diagnose and treat them?

We are also spending massive amounts of cash on top-level prescription drugs for inmates, I was told at the meeting.  When I asked why, I was told we were meeting medical needs of inmates at the "Community Standard."  To which I asked, "What does that term mean?"  I did not receive a response that answered my question and I am going to did deeper into this.

I get it that we need to provide medical treatment to our inmates--but I am not willing to spend taxpayer money on top-notch, brand name pharmaceutical drugs when there are less expensive and equally humane treatments available.  We need to provide basic, stabilizing medical treatment (s) and care for these prisoners that we are temporarily housing--nothing more or less--that is my opinion.

Because it is helpful to remember that many of the taxpayers who foot the bill for this facility do not have insurance or are under-insured themselves.

Is it right to take money from under-insured or non-insured constituents and provide Cadillac treatments and brand-name pharmaceutical drugs to the inmates in our jail if less expensive alternatives are available?

To me, this is almost akin to recognizing that many of the inmates that come to us are diabetic, obese, and have horrible eating habits--so while they are in our jail we hire a master Chef, specializing in Mediterranean Heart Healthy cooking in order to provide our inmates with top-notch cuisine while they are incarcerated--to include fresh seafood, lean meats, vegetables and fruits, prepared to 5-star hotel "community standards."  We wouldn't do that, would we?

I'm going to dig through the entire medical budget like a gopher going through the garden carrot patch--we are hemorrhaging cash and this is part of the problem in my estimation


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