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Armstrong County OKs inmate medical costs program

KITTANNING — Two of the county's public service departments — the Armstrong County Jail and the Armstrong County Health Center — are looking at ways to keep rising medical costs down to start the new year.

The Armstrong County Commissioners on Thursday approved a contract for a medical costs program for the jail; and they tabled bids for pharmacy services for the health center.

The commissioners approved participation in the Prison Inmate Medical Cost Containment Program. The program, which manages the cost of inmate health care for county jails, is sponsored by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP).

"We're looking to realize a nice savings," said Warden Dave Hogue.

The jail will put $10,000 in escrow for administrators of the program to negotiate prices for medical and pharmaceutical care. Inmates are responsible for co-payments.

"The program reduces administration fees," said Commissioner Rich Fink, who serves as president of the county's prison board.

Four pharmacies bid to provide pharmacy service to the health center.

Mission Pharmacy of Kittanning, which has been the provider for the past seven years, bid along with Diamond Pharmacy of Indiana, Leechburg Pharmacy and ICP Care Pharmacies of Sharpsville.

"We decided to participate in the county's bid process to allow us to review our service," said Health Center Administrator David Mansour.

He said the center is looking at criteria that includes the electronic system, experience, price information and the overall scope of service.

The bid amount from each pharmacy was not announced as bids were opened at the public meeting. Mansour explained that officials needed to consider all aspects of the bid rather than just the price.

"We will take a lot of time to look at the bids and make recommendations at the next public meeting," Mansour said.

In other county business, the commissioners:

• Approved renewing an agreement with Veronica Beere for dietary services for the health center. The contract raises the hourly rate of payment from $18 to $20.

"Our budget can accommodate this," said Mansour.

• Approved a contract with Jason Lewis as the jail's solicitor. Lewis replaces Joe Caruso who resigned in November.

• Approved allocating a portion of the county's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to Ford City to help low to moderate income homeowners with the cost of the lateral tie-in to the Ford City Borough Municipal Sewage Disposal Authority's sanitary sewer separation project's new sewer lines. The funds are in addition to money approved last year for lateral connections. The CDBG program provides annual federal grants for local infrastructure improvements in needy communities.

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