Law fix good —— for now

Published 9:49 am Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Much-needed changes in Ohio law will help Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless avoid massive expenses in the budget to operate the jail.

But it remains to be seen if the health care industry will simply pass all of this lost revenue on to the consumers, especially those without insurance or without enough insurance.

The change stems from the fact that a new state law that governs medical care rates for prisoners has dramatically reduced those charges facing local governments.

The change stipulates that health care providers may only charge jails and prisons Medicare rates for services for inmates.

On the surface this looks to be a great thing for financially strapped counties like Lawrence and, ultimately, for the taxpayers.

And it is … at least for now.

Because Medicare pays significantly lower rates than individuals or many private insurance companies, this law change helped the county save more than $20,000 on recent bills.

However, many officials in the health care industry will be quick to tell you that what Medicare agrees to pay is often not enough to cover even the basic expenses of providing the service.

The big question remains: Will the the health care industry and doctors in Ohio try to make up these losses by subsidizing it from the uninsured or under insured?

We hope the answer is no but past practices show that isn’t likely to be true.

It is great that those in our correctional institutions can get affordable care that is needed, but we hope it doesn’t come at the expense of nearly everyone else.