Border States Fight Plan To Shift Hospital Funds
Members of Congress from California and other states that border Mexico are criticizing a federal proposal that would redirect funds from a national reimbursement program for hospitals that treat undocumented immigrants, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday plans to consider the proposal, which would transfer some of the funds to help 14 states cover spending deficits for the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
House staffers proposed redirecting $233 million in funds from the program that hospitals did not claim in previous years. House staffers offered the proposal under the belief that hospitals had forfeited the money, but hospital industry officials say they almost certainly will apply for the funds as more facilities join the program.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and nine other senators in a letter on Wednesday voiced opposition to the proposal.
The reimbursement program was created under the 2003 Medicare law, which set aside $1 billion over four years to reimburse hospitals, physicians, ambulance companies and other health care providers for the treatment of undocumented immigrants.
California's 430 hospitals in 2006 spent about $700 million to cover costs for treating undocumented immigrants. The state was reimbursed $73 million from the program.
House aides on Wednesday were considering other ways to fund SCHIP without interfering with the hospital reimbursement program (Gaouette, Los Angeles Times, 3/15).