Texas state hospitals bill about a dozen patients every year with the expectation they can and will pay for their criminal court-ordered psychiatric care, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Experts say it's part of a larger trend of trying to squeeze more money from those charged with or convicted of crimes.
A spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which oversees the hospital system, said charging patients like Barnes is no different from any hospital collecting fees for medical services. “The whole purpose of a hospital is for treatment, and they are being billed for their treatment,” Stephanie Goodman said. “If you have the resources, you should reimburse taxpayers for the expense.” The Texas Department of State Health Services says competency restoration typically takes about three months. Carolyn Barnes, one of those patients billed, has alleged a conspiracy of county officials to incarcerate her and refused to work with her court-appointed attorney.