SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Inmates in the Illinois Department of Corrections system are contributing more to help pay down the state’s backlog of bills.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Alex Degman reports, with the new year, the inmates are now paying a $5 co-pay for non-emergency medical and dental services. That is up from $2, a level established in 2004.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Alex Degman reports

State Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport), who sponsored the measure, says most law-abiding citizens pay more than $5 per co-pay.

“Convicted felons are folks who have broken our laws,” McAsey said. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have a reasonable co-pay 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 said. “Those inmates are making contributions.”

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