TDOC reimburses Washington County for past inmate medical bills
Published 8:17 am Wednesday, August 3, 2022
JONESBOROUGH — More than $47,000 of state inmate medical expenses from 2019 and 2020 will be reimbursed to Washington County.
“When I took office, the more than $2 million in past due medical bills included expenses for some state inmates,” explained Sheriff Keith Sexton. “Even with no reimbursement requests submitted since 2019, we were able to get $47,699 of past medical expenses reimbursed.”
The sheriff requested that Mayor Joe Grandy, in his capacity as a member of the Board of Control for Tennessee Corrections Institute, approach Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) on behalf of the county. The mayor did, and discovered funds were available to cover costs associated with previous years. The prior WCSO administration neglected to file the necessary paperwork for medical reimbursements.
“When the mayor informed me there was a really good chance we could recoup some money, our staff was all over it,” said Sexton. “Tonya Wheat, our Detention Center Office Manager, worked closely with TDOC’s accounting department to make sure everything was submitted correctly. We received notification of the authorized payment on Monday.”
Almost half of the reimbursement is for medical care for one inmate. The total amount covered medical care for seven state inmates during fiscal years 2019 and 2020.
The Washington County Detention Center houses federal and state inmates in addition to those arrested by various agencies within the Washington County limits. Washington County is responsible for the first $1,000 of a state inmate’s medical care, with the state picking up the remainder.
Due to the lack of proper record keeping by the previous jail administrator, WCSO had to verify medical charges and identify whether inmates treated were local, state or federal inmates.
“That process took quite some time, and we had to rely on outside agencies to help us with the records,” Sexton said. “Once everything was gathered and verified from a billing standpoint, staff worked closely with TDOC and received an answer in a little over two weeks. Going forward, I guarantee we will stay on top of this and make sure we are receiving reimbursement from TDOC as intended.”