Indiana, PA - Indiana County

County recognizes jail program

by RANDY WELLS rwells@indianagazette.net on December 12, 2013 10:55 AM

The Indiana County commissioners Wednesday accepted an award recognizing the success of a pilot program that more efficiently gets jail inmates needed drug and alcohol treatment and saves the county money.

Multiple departments in Armstrong, Clarion and Indiana counties collaborated on the Medical Assistance County Jail Pilot Program.

The purpose of the program is to work with county assistance offices to process inmates’ medical assistance applications while they are incarcerated in a county jail so their HealthChoices behavioral health benefits will be effective on the date of their release. That timing allows inmates to participate in drug and alcohol treatment programs available through the HealthChoices program which is reimbursed about 50 percent by the federal government. Without being eligible for HealthChoices, an inmate’s treatment costs would be paid 100 percent by state or county funds.

As of Aug. 31, 85 clients had been referred to the program and 52 were ruled eligible to participate in the program, saving Armstrong, Clarion and Indiana counties more than $203,000 for the costs of treatment in the first nine months of the pilot program.

The award was presented by The County Managed Care Resource, an intergovernmental cooperation agreement among counties.

The commissioners also approved a $600,000 term loan from the Indiana County Revolving Loan Fund to the Indiana County Development Corporation. The loan will be used to partially fund the acquisition and engineering of real estate at the Windy Ridge Business and Technology Park at Routes 422 and 286 in White Township.

The interest rate on the loan will be fixed at 2.75 percent for 180 months.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the commissioners amended an earlier grant offer — which will now involve $94,764 from the state and $31,588 as a local share from the Indiana County Airport Authority — for a new automated weather observation system at the Indiana County/Jimmy Stewart Airport.

Using AWOS, pilots can tune to a designated radio frequency and receive information on the ground-level temperature, dew point, wind direction and wind speed at the Indiana County airport. Ron Anderson, chairman of the airport authority, said the new AWOS will also provide pilots with the ceiling height over the airport. That component of the existing AWOS has not been operational for some time, he said.

The commissioners also approved the ninth of nine tentative labor contracts between the county and county employees. The one approved Wednesday is a new four-year contract with two county detectives. As with other labor agreements approved earlier this year with unionized county employees, the detectives will continue to pay a 10 percent contribution for their healthcare costs and will receive salary increases of 2 percent in the first year, 2.5 percent in the second and third years and 3 percent in the fourth year of the contract.

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