The Pueblo West View

Commissioners approve $2.3 million jail contract

Health care services costs at issue

The Pueblo County Board of Commissioners approved a $2.3 million contract to provide health care services at the county jail, but it wasn’t without discussion.

The commissioners still would like to shop around for other alternatives to the pricey contract, but Undersheriff JR Hall said that perhaps the best way to reduce the costs of health care at the jail is to reduce the number of inmates.

The commissioners voted 2-0 to approve the contract with Correctional Health Care Companies Inc., with the caveat that the county could pursue a different contract if a better option comes open.

Commissioner Liane “Buffie” McFadyen was excused from Monday’s meeting.

Hall told commissioners that the number of bookings into the jail has stayed the same over the years, but the population is on the rise.

Every person who’s booked into the jail gets a physical and health screen and ongoing care is provided to inmates who stay there.

There are other forms of care provided as well, including things like mental health treatment.

Hall said the jail is working on possible ways to reduce the health care costs and the Affordable Care Act might provide some opportunities.

Hall said the jail’s discharge officers are working to get inmates signed up with Obamacare before they leave.

There’s hope that doing that will save on future costs if those inmates find themselves back in jail.

Hall said there’s also potential in a pretrial services program the sheriff, county and 10th Judicial District are working on that could divert inmates away from the jail, thereby saving on the costs of their treatment.

Commissioner Terry Hart suggested that the health care contract might be a subject for future sessions.

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