Jail's medical bills piling up

Insurance won't cover everything

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— For the first time in Routt County Sheriff John Warner's tenure, medical bills for inmates are expected to exceed the county's insurance coverage.

"Activity seemed up overall in the jail," Warner said. "For 2000, I expect the medical bills to be more than $25,000. This is the first time in seven years that we have gotten close to it."

Warner doesn't yet know how high inmate medical expenses will go for 2000, but he expects the tab to top the $25,000 that insurance will pay, meaning the county will have to dip into its own funds.

Warner will ask the county commissioners on Tuesday to look into buying additional coverage. State law requires the county to provide medical services to inmates.

"When they are in our custody we must provide health care," Warner said. "When we can, we try to make the inmate pay for the health care. But if an inmate is indigent, the county has to pick-up that cost."

One of the medical expenses that pushed the jail into the red last year was treating a young inmate who tried to kill himself.

Jared Wayne Maynard, 20, hanged himself in a cellblock Oct. 29 and died two days later at a Denver hospital.

The type of supplemental insurance Warner is interested in would cover self-inflicted injuries. It also would kick in when medical bills exceed the county's current policy.

"If we go over $25,000, this insurance would cover the cost of catastrophic incidents," Warner said.

Along with covering self-inflicted wounds, the supplemental insurance Warner has researched would provide coverage for heart ailments, leukemia, diabetes, breast cancer and broken bones.

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