Senator Runner Authors Legislation to Stop Abuse of System
that Overcharges Law Enforcement for Heath Care Services
(SACRAMENTO) — To stop overcharging law enforcement unsubstantiated costs for inmates’, suspects’, and victims’ healthcare services, Senator George Runner (R-Antelope Valley) introduced legislation requiring hospitals to charge counties and their law enforcement agencies for reasonable costs.
“This legislation is just common sense. Charging taxpayers a higher billing rate — some as high as 150 percent over the standard cost for a given health care service — is a blatant abuse of taxpayer dollars,” said Senator Runner.
Law enforcement is required by law to pay for health care services needed for individuals in their custody. This includes sexual assault exams and services needed for suspects or inmates. Currently, if a hospital will not enter into an agreement for reasonable costs, law enforcement agencies are held hostage to whatever rate the hospital chooses to bill the agency. Senate Bill 159 (SB 159) will fix this problem.
SB 159 would specify that hospitals that do not contract with law enforcement be limited to reasonable and allowable costs under the Medicare/Medicaid billing practices. A similar law was signed last year to allow the state to be charged reasonable costs for health care services needed for state prisoners.
Bob Doyle, President of the California State Sheriffs’ Association said, “When inmates, suspects or victims of violent crime are cared for in a private hospital setting in California, taxpayers are currently paying far above market value for that care. In order to control costs, last year’s budget mandated the Department of Corrections and the California Youth Authority be given the same ability to negotiate rates as HMO’s and Medi-Cal. If it’s good for the state, it’s good for the locals.”