Citizens For A Better Norwood

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Commissioner David Pepper’s new blog

Several local blogs, including the Cincinnati Beacon, have recently publicized the new “PepTalk” blog Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper started last week. It’s an informative read, and we were especially struck by his Monday entry “Reducing Jail Costs, Reducing Recidivsm” in which he describes the millions of dollars Hamilton County taxpayers spend on health care for our jailed population because of the federal government’s policy of terminating Medicaid shortly after people are incarcerated. Fortunately, there are several remedies in the works, including a recently proposed bill in Congress that would end the policy of terminating federal Medicaid benefits for those who are in county jails awaiting trial. In the meantime, here’s how he says the current federal policy is working to the detriment of taxpapers:

1. It eliminates a critical benefit even before a person has been judged guilty of a crime, violating the basic principle that people are innocent until proven guilty.

2. It represents a massive cost shift from federal Medicaid to county taxpayers to pay for the medical costs of those in jail waiting for trial (if an inmate is not covered, the county is required by law to pay for the medical costs, and we pay millions per year to do so).

3. When a person leaves our jail (whether after serving a sentence, or even after being found innocent), he or she leaves without Medicaid. This has dramatically negative consequences on our effort to reduce recidivism, particularly for those with mental illnesses who rely on medical and drug care to keep them from repeating criminal behavior. Without Medicaid, they leave jail with no way to pay for their medicines. It also costs Hamilton County taxpayers because rather than Medicaid, the care of such individuals will be paid through our County indigent care levy.