Gov. signs bill to charge jail inmates medical co-payments

FRANKFORT, Ky.—Gov. Steve Beshear today signed Senate Bill 47, which will allow county jails to charge a medical co-payment fee to state prisoners housed in county facilities, mirroring the policy for county inmates.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Schickel, of Union, will provide partial relief for counties coping with the great cost of housing and caring for Kentucky’s rapidly increasing inmate populations. Beginning in 2005, this cost grew to represent nearly 45 percent of some counties’ general funds.

“Currently, the costs associated with housing and caring for inmates continues to be a tremendous drain on public budgets for government at all levels,” said Gov. Beshear. “I’m pleased to ceremonially sign into law a bill from the 2010 legislative session that will offer county jailers some small relief related to the costs of providing health care for inmates, which is a major driver of exploding jail budgets.”

The bill will not impact inmates unable to afford the co-payment, and marks a step toward greater consistency in the treatment of inmates housed in local facilities.

“This is a small piece of legislation with big implications,” said Sen. Schickel. “It will save county governments millions in litigation costs. This is a taxpayer savings bill.”

The bill unanimously passed both the House and Senate.

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