TULSA inmates may get billed for health care at jail

Saturday, May 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A new policy being considered at the Tulsa Jail would force inmates to pay part of their health care.

Oklahoma law allows $8 medical copayments to be deducted from an inmate's jail account. Jim Cooke, warden at the jail run by Corrections Corporation of America, has indicated he would like to start the practice June 1.

The new policy could help reduce what jail officials call frivolous sick calls by inmates.

``This is something that happens in a correctional environment; they're going to reach for any kind of attention they can,'' spokesman Chris Howard said. ``When you have to pay $8, you might not consider doing that again.''

Some inmates claim their medical needs are not being met at the jail and that sick calls are ignored.

Howard said the medical unit gets 300 to 350 sick calls a day.

The corrections company would charge fees to an inmate's commissary account for each ``self-initiated'' request for medical, dental or psychological treatment. Fees for X-rays, therapy, lab work and prescription drugs would also be charged to the account.

Indigent inmates would be given medical care, the company said.