The Texas Tribune, June 17, 2011
The House today gave early approval to a bill that would require Texas prisoners to pay $100 a year for healthcare. Current law requires inmates to make a copayment of $3 per doctor visit. HB 26, by state Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano, seeks to offset some of the prison healthcare costs that taxpayers now absorb by requiring inmates in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to pay an annual fee of $100 if they use prison medical services. For inmates who are unable to pay the fee, 50% of money deposited into their trust fund would be removed until the fee is covered. For indigent inmates, those with $5 or less in their trust fund, no money would be taken out. Now, taxpayers pay for a large portion of inmate healthcare, Madden said. Lawmakers budgeted $900 million for prisoner health care during the current biennium, but actual costs were $50 million to $70 million higher, he said.