Texas House Ok's Changes To Prisoner Health Care

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas House has approved legislation meant to tamp down rising health care costs for the state's prisoners.

Passed by a vote of 124-14, the bill requires inmates who initiate a doctor's visit 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, so as to help reduce costs.

The measure additionally directs the department to provide some over-the-counter medications and at no cost to indigent inmates. It now heads to the Senate.

Opponents say the bill is too much of an increase from the current, $3 prisoner co-pay per doctor's visit. But a budget analysis predicts it will save Texas nearly $10 million over the next two years.