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Inmates to be charged for medical care in Cass County

WALKER — Cass County has been paying about $100,000 per year for jail inmate medical care.

That bill should be lower this year. The county board voted Tuesday to begin charging inmates for their medical care.

Those who have insurance will be expected to use their own insurance. Those who do not will pay a co-pay toward what the county pays for their medical services. The rate is in line with amounts Crow Wing County has been charging inmates under its jurisdiction.

Lt. Joel Norenberg, who oversees the jail in Walker, told the board the sheriff’s department expects to enforce the new charge and will use a collection agency to collect payments that run 60 days past-due.

He and Sheriff Tom Burch also said they expect fewer inmates will ask to see a doctor or to go to a hospital merely as a way to get out of jail for a while.

Charges for medical services will be levied against any inmate arrested and booked by Cass County, whether booked into the jail in Brainerd or in Walker. Inmates who might be charged by another county, but boarded in Cass County will not be charged for medical services unless the charging county otherwise levies their own charges.

Work release or temporary release return inmates also will not be charged the medical fees.

Cass’s fee schedule will be as follows:

Booking, Breathalyzer testing, drug/alcohol urinalysis, public fingerprinting, work release (per day), $20; jail boarding, $50 per day; dental co-pay, physician consultation co-pay, nurse consultation, prescription medication co-pay, and Mantoux testing, $10; over the counter medications, 50 cents each; and weekender boarding, $35 per weekend.