Jefferson County to take healthcare provider to court

By Alan Collins

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County is going after a Mississippi healthcare provider.

On Tuesday, the Jefferson County Commission authorized its lawyers to sue Mississippi-based Health Assurance. The company was paid $4 million to take care of inmates at the Jefferson County Jail. The company has contracted with Cooper Green Mercy Hospital for medical service. County commissioners say Health Assurance owes the county-run hospital more than a million dollars.

"They are not paying the contract and honoring the bill to Cooper Green because they have already been paid by the sheriff," said Commissioner George Bowman. "The money came out of the county to the sheriff. The sheriff paid them. They haven't paid Cooper Green."

Commissioner Bowman says Sheriff Mike Hale has agreed to contract directly with Cooper Green Mercy Hospital in the future, taking the Mississippi company out of the picture.

Hale's attorney, Rob Riley, says the jail will continue to have a third party to provide nursing care at the jail. If an inmate is in need of hospital care, they will be taken to Cooper Green.

The Sheriff's office remains in discussions over liability issues with contracting with Cooper Green. The biggest objection the sheriff has to hiring Cooper Green is whether or not there would be enough liability insurance to cover inmates.

The Commission plans to make a full decision on Thursday.

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