Rep. Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville), an author of the bill, said its provisions would protect hospitals and other health care providers.
"Obviously, a doctor doesn't want to turn away a hurting or dying patient," Rep. Saunders said. "But if they don't know that no one is liable to pay for their services, they get duped. It's our goal to prevent that and protect taxpayers."
The bill requires counties to reimburse hospitals and other health care providers for services to county prisoners subject to lawful detention by a sheriff, provided the prisoners do not have medical insurance or are unwilling to pay for medical expenses.
If a prisoner is escorted on to hospital property by a sheriff, the bill states that the sheriff must stay in proximity of the prisoner unless the prisoner is physically unable to leave the building or the hospital determines the prisoner is not a threat to hospital staff.
The reimbursement specified by the bill is equal to the federal Medicare rate for the service, plus 4 percent. If there is no Medicare rate, the county will pay 65 percent of the amount charged by the hospital.
Other authors for the bill include Reps. Sandy Blanton, Bob Bischoff and Nancy Michael, all Democrats. The bill will now be considered by the Senate.