$2.2 million more needed to pay Nevada inmate medical costs

CARSON CITY — A state board on Tuesday approved a nearly $2.2 million request from the Department of Corrections to cover unanticipated inmate medical claims.

The request to dip into a state contingency fund, approved unanimously by the Board of Examiners, now goes to the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee for review later this week.

The board was told several catastrophic medical cases, defined as costing more than $100,000, are a contributing factor in the request.

Scott Sisco, representing the department at the meeting, said the agency has had 13 inmate cases so far this year that have seen outside medical costs in excess of $100,000 each. The total cost of the cases is just over $2.4 million with nearly three months left in the fiscal year. This compares to a total of 12 such cases in all of 2013, which cost a total of $2.8 million.

In a report to the board, the agency reported that $4.6 million has been spent on inmate hospitalization in the first half of this fiscal year compared to about $1.2 million in the same period in the previous year. Outside medical costs, such as prescription drugs and hospitalization, were projected to cost $18 million this year and $18.8 million in fiscal year 2015 in the budget approved by the 2013 Legislature.

The state is now getting some financial help for prison medical spending due to changes resulting from the federal Affordable Care Act, which expanded eligibility requirements for inmates starting Jan. 1. The Legislature projected savings of $2.7 million this fiscal year and $5.2 million in the coming fiscal year that begins July 1 because of the changes.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.