The Hot Beat


The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him:

Paraplegic accused in domestic is breaking the jail’s bank

Correction: This blog post was badly incorrect until 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, when I changed it.

Kruse’s insurance company covered his medical expenses during his time at University Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, not county taxpayers.

Also, the cost of Kruse’s care provided at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale is about $900 a day, compared to about $3,000 a day at University Hospitals.

A month after he crashed his car in a high-speed police chase and was paralyzed from the waist down, Shawn Kruse is costing Linn County taxpayers more than $900 per day.

The 32-year-old from Cedar Rapids is accused of hitting his wife with an unknown weapon and using a crowbar and a hack saw to intimidate her before he fled from police May 31. In the ensuing chase, which reached speeds of 110 mph, Kruse’s vehicle hit a guardrail on Highway 30, went airborne and rolled into the ditch.

Kruse was later charged with first-degree kidnapping and going armed with intent for the domestic incident. He also was badly injured, taken to University Hospitals in Iowa City, and lost the use of his legs.

When he was released from the hospital Friday, he was taken to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center, a prison with medical facilities in Oakdale, just north of Iowa City.

“We are not able to give him the 24-hour care he requires,” Sheriff Brian Gardner said, who oversees the Linn County Jail. “We actually worked out a deal with Oakdale. We’re paying them a large sum of money to handle his medical care.”

What President Barack Obama calls one of the most important challenges of our time, how to pay for health care, extends even to people behind bars, and Kruze’s case provides an extreme example.

“Most health insurance companies have a clause written into their policies that says if you are incarcerated, we cancel your coverage,” said Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner.

County taxpayers pay for medical care for inmates. The Sheriff’s Office budgeted $247,000 this year to pay for doctor visits and medication.

The bill for Kruse was over $3,000 per day when he was in the hospital, Gardner said, because of the many, expensive medications he requires. His insurance company covered those costs until he was taken to Oakdale, where the same treatments cost about $900 per day.

“This is definitely going to impact our budget,” Gardner said.


Filed under: Public Safety, , , , , , ,

Flood insurance to cost a bundle for courthouse, jail

Flood insurance premiums for seven county buildings that were flooded — and yes, FEMA requires flood insurance for those if it’s goin to shell out millions of dollars to repair them — will be about $630,000 per year, Linn County Risk Manager Steve Estenson said this morning.

That’s more than 1 percent of the county’s annual general fund budget.

“Our two highest costs are of course the jail and courthouse,” Supervisor Lu Barron said of the two buildings on May’s Island, both of which sustained significant flood damage.

The premiums for federal flood insurance will be $50,000 per year, but the county has to insure its buildings for another $30 million in damage, and the premiums for that insurance are $580,000 per year, Estenson said.

Millheiser Smith, the company that came up with the quotes for the county, had to piece together that $30 million in coverage using six different insurers.

“They had challenges in finding insurance companies that would provide this,” Estenson said.

Estenson said there’s hope the county may not have to buy so much insurance, if the state insurance commissioner allows the county a waiver. Rick Smith gets a little deeper into this on his blog.

As it stands now, insurance has to be in place when the county reoccupies the flood-damaged part of a building.

Filed under: County Government, , , , ,

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