Joe Robach and the New York State Senate passed a bill that would protect taxpayers by requiring state and county correctional facility inmates to make copayments for health care visits the same policy that is in place in the federal prison system and two-thirds of the states.

New York taxpayers spend over $121 million per year to provide top-of-the-line health care to prisoners, amounting to about $2,000 per inmate. This legislation requires prisoners to pay $7 per visit as a co-payment for medical treatment. No inmate would be denied medical treatment for an inability to pay, but it would reduce the excessive and non-emergency health care visits currently taking place in our prisons and save millions of taxpayer dollars each year.

Joe Robach and the Senate pointed out that the health care benefits provided to the state’s inmates are often expensive and medically unnecessary. Often, inmates will schedule medical appointments when nothing is wrong simply as a way of passing their time behind bars, because it’s free.

In 2000, the federal government successfully adopted and implemented a copayment system for federal prisoners, saving the Department of Justice millions of dollars every year. More than 2/3 of states have already enacted co-payments for inmate medical services, including California, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Nevada. In states that have instituted a copay program, the abuse in the number of sick call visits by inmates was reduced by as much as 76 percent, also saving these states millions of taxpayer dollars.

New York should join the federal government and many other states and require inmates to pay their fair share for health care services. This Senate legislation, supported by Joe Robach, would provide a significant measure of relief for taxpayers.

The bill was sent to the Assembly.  For more information on this or any other Senate bill, contact Joe Robach’s office.