CMS Announces Program To Provide U.S. Hospitals $1 Billion Over Four Years for Emergency Care for Uninsured Patients
CMS officials last week announced a program to give U.S. hospitals $1 billion over four years to pay for the emergency care of uninsured patients, regardless of their citizenship status, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports. The federal government this fall aims to determine how many undocumented immigrants are treated by U.S. hospitals and ambulance services (Stanforth, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 7/28). Two-thirds of the funding will be distributed among all states, while the remaining third will be given to those states with the largest number of undocumented immigrants (CMS release, 7/22). Rochester, N.Y.-based Strong Memorial Hospital spokesperson Teri D'Agostino said, "We're not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Anything that can offset those costs is welcome." Strong's debt this year for unpaid medical bills increased to $19.4 million in the last fiscal year from $13.9 million in 2001 (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 7/29). CMS Administrator Mark McClellan said, "Emergency services are a critical part of public health for everyone in our communities, including undocumented immigrants." He added, "Hospitals and health professionals on the front lines of providing emergency care for everyone need our support. With $250 million a year in new funding, the new Medicare law gives us a greater ability than ever to provide that support." CMS officials aim to have an implementation plan in place by the Sept. 1 deadline established in the Medicare law (CMS release, 7/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.