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Hospital bills for Weldon not county's responsibility

Iowa County will not have to foot Tonch Weldon’s medical bills even though his coverage has ended through his previous employer.

Weldon, 37, rural Blairstown, is awaiting trial in the June 7 murder of Amy Gephart. Weldon also allegedly attempted to kill himself with a shotgun. He was treated at the University of Iowa Hospitals and currently resides at Iowa Medical and Classification Center, Oakdale, where he is held on a $1 million bond.

Iowa County Sheriff Robert Rotter said Weldon's former employer has ended his health insurance benefits. However, according to federal law, Weldon is entitled to receive the same benefits so long as he pays the premium.

According to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1986, employees are entitled to the same health benefits upon termination of employment. The employee has 60 days to apply for coverage or lose  all rights to benefits. The service is eligible for any group plan of 20 or more employees.

"This is basically a continuation of his insurance," Rotter said. "It is offered at the group rate, only he has to pay the premium."

Weldon is eligible for COBRA for a maximum of 18 months, Rotter said.

Rotter said representatives from the Iowa County Sheriff's Department helped Weldon fill out the paperwork and Weldon signed the agreement.

Rotter said Weldon has a doctor's check up at the end of the week, and he said they will hopefully know then when Weldon can be moved to the Iowa County Jail.

"As far as I know he is fine," Rotter said.

Weldon's trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 12 in Iowa County District Court, but Rotter said he expects the trial to be delayed.


UPDATED September 16, 2009 9:54 AM

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