Published: Sep 20, 2010 4:07 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 20, 2010 1:07 PM EDT

MIAMI (AP) - Why are taxpayers footing the bill for inmate health care at Miami's struggling hospital system?

As Miami-Dade County commissioners consider the Jackson Health System budget this week, local officials ask why the hospital isn't charging prisoners for their own care, as required by state law. Most public hospitals in the country don't have to pick up the costs - local governments or other entities do.

Jackson's monthly financial reports say correctional health care costs locals taxpayers $24 million a year. Hospital executives insist having an outside contractor perform jail services will save taxpayers $8 million next year.

The Miami Herald reported Monday that Jackson officials say prisoner care is an "unfunded mandate" the county commission forced on them.