Erie County Comptroller proposes healthcare copays for inmates

Jan 8, 2015

The Erie County Comptroller is calling on the state to impose copays on inmates for healthcare services.

County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw says a three-year audit of the county's cost to provide healthcare to inmates at the jail and holding center found more than $24-million in expenses for medical services; roughly 8-million-dollars a year on prescriptions, tests, hospitalizations, transportation, surgeries and mental health evaluations.

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw
Credit WBFO News File Photo

Mychajliw is asking state lawmakers to enact a law allowing the county to charge inmates copays for those services.

"If an inmate can use commissary funds to buy snacks and cookies and candy, than they are able to pay a very small fee, a copay, for prescriptions," notes Mychajliw.

"I have to pay copays for my healthcare. People in the private sector have to pay copays for prescriptions and healthcare and so should inmates."

Mychajliw estimates copays would generate $300,000 in revenue for the county.

He is also asking state lawmakers to consider amending state insurance law to create a method of verifying whether inmates have insurance coverage or might be eligible for Medicaid at the time of booking.

Mychajliw notes 42 other states currently charge inmates copays.