With the New Year, Illinois Department of Corrections inmates are contributing more to help pay down the state’s backlog of bills. They’re paying a $5 copay for non-emergency medical and dental services. That’s up from $2, a level established in 2004. State Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport), who sponsored the measure, says most law-abiding citizens pay more than $5 per copay.
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“Convicted felons are folks who have broken our laws,” she says. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have a reasonable copay for non-emergency medical services. I don’t think that they should be rewarded with free medical care.” McAsey says inmates have accounts, where they can get money from outside sources or deposit money they earn through low-wage jobs in prison. She estimates the state will earn an extra $336,000 a year from the increase. “We’re going to see an effect and a cost saving to the overall bottom line for the Illinois Department of Corrections related to medical costs,” she says. “Those inmates are making contributions.”