Fees keep prisoners from needed medical care

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[Medical Care] [Prison Labor] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 2]
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Fees keep prisoners from needed medical care

Recently the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, in conjunction with Prison Health Services, the statewide healthcare provider for the PA-DOC based out of Brentwood, Tennessee, made it much more difficult for prisoners to get medical treatment by increasing the co-payment for medical services to $5. A fee of $5 will be assessed each time a medical service at sick call is provided to a prisoner when seen by any physician, physicians assistant, dentist, optometric professional or other person licensed to provide health care under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Also, an additional fee of $5 will be charged for each subscription that is ordered for the prisoner by an on-site health care professional.

No complimentary services will be given to prisoners, with the exception of prisoners with well documented chronic care issues: HIV/Aids, hepatitis, hypertension and diabetes.

With the average wage paid for a prison work assignment here in Pennsylvania of 19 cents an hour, 4 hours max a day, many prisoners are letting their illnesses go untreated. They are unable to pay for medical services and buy bare necessities like toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo from commissary! Frequently prisoners are deliberately given medication subscriptions that do not improve or fully restore them back to good health.

Under DOC policy DC-ADM820, there should be no additional fee when this takes place, however a prisoner still must fill out and sign a DC-138 cash slip for follow up sick call visits, and these signed cash slips are being forwarded to the facility business office for fee deduction from the prisoners account.

The prisoner can use the grievance system to try to recoup these deductions, however the odds are small that fee will ever be credited back to the prisoners account. This is just one of the many ways the executive administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections manipulate the prison population into handing back over the slave wages they work all month for.

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