Legislature Approves Bill to Eliminate Medical Co-pays for Incarcerated Individuals

Monday, September 9, 2019

SACRAMENTO - The Legislature has approved AB 45 by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) to eliminate medical co-pays for incarcerated individuals. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 29 to 11.

“An individual who makes 8 cents an hour in prison will have to work 60 hours to be able to afford the $5 copay. This barrier to care can have serious consequences including the exacerbation of minor conditions until they are serious or chronic, and the spread of infectious diseases,” said Stone. “AB 45 will remove this barrier and ensure incarcerated individuals can receive healthcare while in prison. I urge the Governor to approve this necessary measure.”

Incarcerated people enter prison with disproportionately high rates of poverty, substance abuse issues and mental illness relative to the non-incarcerated population. While in prison, the state has an obligation to provide health services to its incarcerated individuals.  Copays are costly for incarcerated people who make as little as 8 cents an hour. This barrier to healthcare means individuals need to work up to 60 hours to afford a copay or are forced to decide between buying basic hygiene products or paying for a copay.

"By eliminating jail and prison copays, AB 45 will help improve public health and bring California one step closer to establishing more just access to healthcare for incarcerated Californians,” said Emily Harris, Interim Policy Manager with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. “This is particularly important to achieve equitable health outcomes in Black and Brown communities, and reduce the financial burden on incarcerated Californians and their families."

The Governor has until October 13 to sign AB 45.

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