Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) to temporarily suspend inmate fees for health care services related to COVID-19. While inmates housed within TDCJ facilities are never denied access to health care due to an inability to pay, this temporary waiver will encourage inmates to timely seek treatment for symptoms related to the Coronavirus.
Governor Abbott said, “Waiving health care fees for offenders housed in TDCJ facilities will ensure that inmates experiencing any symptoms of CoViD-19 receive immediate medical attention. This suspension will protect the health of both inmates and TDCJ staff, and is a crucial tool in our efforts to mitigate any potential spread of CoViD-19 in closely confined populations.”
Currently, TDCJ is required to collect $100.00 from each offender who requests a visit to a health care provider. Offenders are charged a $100.00 fee for the first non-emergency health care visit. This fee covers all health care visits for twelve months. Any visit after the initial twelve months will incur another $100.00 annual fee for health care services. The fee is deducted from the offender’s Trust Fund account. In the event there is no money in the Trust Fund account to cover the fee the law requires that fifty percent of each deposit into the offender’s Trust Fund account will be applied to the amount owed until the total amount is paid.
The suspension allows inmates to visit the prison infirmary without being charged a fee if the visit is related to CoViD-19. The health care fee will still apply for all medical services not related to the Coronavirus or services that are exempt such as mental health reviews, emergency visits, chronic care visits, prenatal visits, and health evaluations.