Texas House Panel OKs Changes To Prison Health Care

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A House committee has approved legislation meant to cut down on soaring health care costs for prisoners in Texas.

The panel voted Tuesday for a bill that would require inmates who initiate a visit to the doctor to pay a $100 annual fee unless they are indigent. It also requires the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to house inmates with similar health conditions in the same units to reduce costs.

The legislation requires the department to provide certain over-the-counter medications and at no cost to indigent inmates.

A budget analysis predicts the bill will save the state nearly $10 million over the next two years.

The bill's author said he will try to amend the measure onto a Senate fiscal matters bill Thursday.