Assembly Bill 45 would eliminate medical and dental copayments for people inside of California prisons and jails. Currently, people in California prisons are charged a $5 copayment when they initiate medical or dental services. The average wage for people in prisons is $0.08 an hour meaning that medical and dental visits can cost more than one week’s pay. Jails are authorized to charge up to $3 per copayment, but no wages are earned while incarcerated in jails. The high cost of healthcare in prisons and jails discourages many people from seeking care until it is an emergency. This barrier to healthcare jeopardizes not just the health of the imprisoned, but also the health of prison staff and the public, as sick people who avoid doctors are more likely to suffer from more severe illness and increased infection rates.
AB 45 was introduced by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) and is sponsored by Initiate Justice, ACLU of California, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and the Union of American Physicians and Dentists.
- Download the AB 45 Legislative Fact Sheet
Visit the California Legislative Information page for AB 45 to follow this bill.
09/09/19 Update: AB 45 passed successfully passed through the Senate and Assembly, and now heads to the Governor for his signature.