Menu

Search

  |   Business

Menu

  |   Business

Search

Do Inmates Have A Right To The Same Medical Treatment As Free Citizens?

According to Supreme Court interpretation, the United States Constitution allows states to disenfranchise felons, whether they’re serving time or have been released. This is achieved by taking away their rights. For instance, with the exception of Maine and Vermont, you probably know inmates can’t vote. In most states, after being released, convicted felons need to go through a special process to reinstate their voting rights. Some states, like Mississippi, only restore voting rights to certain types of felons, and other states never restore voting rights at all.

Most people agree with banning inmates and convicted felons from voting. As Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity says, “If you aren’t willing to follow the law, you can’t claim the right to make the law for everyone else.” However, this is only a glimpse of unnecessary angst directed at felons. The desire to punish inmates shows up in other areas, like the fact that they’re excluded from Medicaid unless hospitalized for 24 hours or longer. This puts the cost of inmate medical care on counties and states and makes it harder for them to access the same medical treatment as free citizens.

Many people don’t like knowing their tax dollars are paying for services received by inmates, period, even when it comes to medical care. Looking deeper into this issue, there might be a good reason taxpayers resist the idea of paying for an inmate’s medical care. Many taxpayers pay astronomical insurance premiums and still have high copays, high deductibles, and costly prescriptions. If someone can barely afford their own medical care, they’re not going approve of their tax dollars paying for a criminal’s healthcare.

Inmates don’t have options to cut medical costs

If an inmate has cancer, diabetes, asthma, or any other condition requiring ongoing treatment, it’s going to come at a significant cost. The average U.S. citizen can work around those costs in their own life by using a Canadian pharmacy to cut prescription costs, but an inmate can’t. Inmates don’t have a say in where their drugs come from, whether they’re brand-name drugs, or how much they cost. Sometimes prisons won’t administer certain drugs even when an inmate has a standing, valid prescription from a physician.

Since they’re behind bars, inmates are one of the easiest groups of people to take advantage of by denying them the same level of care a free person would be entitled to. For example, some states don’t allow inmates to treat addiction with methadone even when prescribed by a doctor. Addiction is a serious problem, and methadone has helped thousands of people recover.

The reason methadone is barred from prisons is understandable since it’s an opioid, but it’s easy to administer without allowing the inmate to take it back into the general population of the prison.

Some officials are starting to rule in favor of granting inmates more rights to medical treatment. Earlier this year, in November 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper ruled in favor of an inmate requesting to continue his physician-prescribed methadone treatment plan while incarcerated.

Some inmates pay for their medical services

Inmates should have the same freedom as everyone else to choose treatment options that best work for them – especially since many inmates are required to pay for medical services they receive.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons allows inmates to be charged copayments for medical services they receive, including emergency treatment, hospitalization, and routine care. NPR reports at least 35 states require copayments and other fees at state prisons and county jails.

The unfortunate side effect of charging inmates copays for medical services is it can act as a deterrent to seeking necessary medical care. Inmates don’t have much money, and if they have to choose between buying soap or seeing a doctor, they’ll probably choose the soap.

About 80% of inmates don’t have much money in their commissary account, which means many of the inmates required to pay for medical care can’t afford to keep chronic conditions in check.

Rights to medical care shouldn’t be dependent on finances

It seems inmates are facing the same situation everyone else is. Access to healthcare is rough, unless you’ve got money. Hopefully the law banning inmates from receiving Medicaid will soon be repealed, as it’s starting to be scrutinized by officials in power.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

  • ET PRO
  • Market Data

Market-moving news and views, 24 hours a day >

April 24 23:50 UTC Released

JPForeign Invest JP Stock

Actual

1426.6 Bln JPY

Forecast

Previous

528.5 Bln JPY

April 24 23:50 UTC Released

JPForeign Bond Investment

Actual

1170 Bln JPY

Forecast

Previous

591.1 Bln JPY

January 31 00:00 UTC 646574646574m

ARAnnual Primary Balance*

Actual

Forecast

2016 bln ARS

Previous

Bln AR bln ARS

January 31 00:00 UTC 646574646574m

ARAnnual Primary Balance*

Actual

Forecast

2016 bln ARS

Previous

Bln AR bln ARS

January 22 19:00 UTC 658394658394m

ARTrade Balance

Actual

Forecast

Previous

-1541 %

January 31 00:00 UTC 646574646574m

ARAnnual Primary Balance*

Actual

Forecast

2016 bln ARS

Previous

Bln AR bln ARS

January 22 19:00 UTC 658394658394m

ARTrade Balance

Actual

Forecast

Previous

-1541 %

January 31 00:00 UTC 646574646574m

ARAnnual Primary Balance*

Actual

Forecast

2016 bln ARS

Previous

Bln AR bln ARS

January 31 00:00 UTC 646574646574m

ARAnnual Primary Balance*

Actual

Forecast

2016 bln ARS

Previous

Bln AR bln ARS

January 31 00:00 UTC 646574646574m

ARAnnual Primary Balance*

Actual

Forecast

2016 bln ARS

Previous

Bln AR bln ARS

Close

Welcome to EconoTimes

Sign up for daily updates for the most important
stories unfolding in the global economy.