Under a new state law, Texas prisoners who seek medical care pay a fee of $100 once a year, whether they see a doctor once or multiple times, says the Texas Tribune. If they don’t see a doctor at all, they can avoid the fee altogether. Critics of the law say the fee has had unintended consequences — including situations where inmates are refusing treatment and a complicated administrative process for inmates who say they have been charged incorrectly. The fee, critics say, hasn’t even met financial expectations.
Lawmakers who supported the policy change say the goal is to take the burden off taxpayers to pay for inmate health care. “I believe it was the right thing to do at the time,” said state Rep. Jerry Madden, who wrote the bill. “I still think it’s a reasonable thing to do.” The fee has not produced the predicted financial results. The $100 dollar copay was expected to raise $5.7 million in 2012. It generated about $2.5 million. “Quite frankly, it doesn't make much of a difference,” said Dr. Owen Murray of the University of Texas Medical Branch, which along with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center has administered health care to Texas inmates since 1993.