MUNCIE — IU Health has sent a letter to Delaware County Sheriff Ray Dudley, demanding that he pay $1.8 million in medical care costs for a former jail inmate's six-month stay in Ball Memorial Hospital.
Dudley told The Star Press that the man was no longer an inmate two days after he went to the hospital, when a judge ordered him released, and the county has no responsibility to pay. The sheriff also questioned the amount of medication billed as given to the inmate during his first two days in the hospital.
The "Demand for Payment" letter sent by an IU Health attorney to Dudley on Aug. 17 also suggests that Dudley violated the state law that makes sheriffs responsible for the medical care of their inmates.
Dudley indicated Wednesday that he'll dispute the letter from Jenna Rager, from the Office of Legal Escalation at Indiana University Health. The sheriff noted that his entire annual budget for medical care for jail inmates is just over $500,000, or less than a third of the amount IU Health seeks.
"The hospital doesn't have the right to say we have to provide medical care after an inmate has been released," Dudley said. "If so, anybody we would take to the hospital, we would still be responsible for their care even after they're no longer in our custody."
In response to a request for comment or interview, IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital released a statement Wednesday afternoon.