OLYMPIA - The state House of Representatives on Monday unanimously approved a bill to allow doctors to buy eyeglasses made by prison inmates for their Medicaid patients.
Medicaid patients have been unable to have new eyeglasses covered by the government health benefits program since January because of budget cuts in the wake of revenue shortfalls.
Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, introduced House Bill 1613 to allow inmates in the Correctional Industries program to make the glasses, which doctors could purchase and then sell to patients at cost.
Warnick said the bill addressed an important need for patients while also allowing inmates to learn a useful skill.
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"This would allow someone learning a trade to provide eyeglasses to people who wouldn't receive them otherwise," she said.
Warnick serves on the Correctional Industries board, and said the program can help inmates become productive members of society after serving their time.
"This legislation is a win for everyone because these two groups are helping each other," she said. "These are the kinds of ideas we must have to stretch tax dollars and continue to help those who are less fortunate."