Hospital closure: inmates' medical care costs more

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) — Rapides Parish Sheriff William Earl Hinton says medical costs for jail inmates have skyrocketed since Pineville's charity hospital was closed.

His top administrator, Debbie McBeth, tells The Town Talk (http://townta.lk/1yMpNfo ) that Earl P. Long Medical Center rarely charged for inmates' care until a year ago. She says the Sheriff's Office is considering whether to hire or contract with a doctor and nurses to care for inmates at the jail.

McBeth says the sheriff's office has racked up about $135,000 in medical bills over the past year. Nearly half was billed by the Pineville hospital before it closed and two Alexandria hospitals took over indigent care.

She also says those hospitals want non-emergency care given at clinics, but the clinics are not set up to handle prisoners.

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Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, http://www.thetowntalk.com

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