Cost of Providing Care to Undocumented Immigrants Rising, New Survey Finds
Public hospitals nationwide, "especially along the nation's borders," are facing increased costs from providing care to undocumented immigrants, according to a new survey by the National Association of Counties, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports (Gibson/Benjamin, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 6/13). At a press conference in Washington, D.C., yesterday, the group released a "snap-shot" survey, which "outlines the dramatic increases in uncompensated health care costs" (NACo release, 6/12). Based on data from 43 counties, the survey determined that 86% of counties experienced increases in uncompensated care costs over the last five years. The survey also found that 67% of those reporting an increase cited "immigration as a factor," and 51% said the added costs had to be covered by county funds, mostly sales and property tax revenue, the Sun-Sentinel reports (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 6/13). NACo President Javier Gonzales said that "without action on Capitol Hill, property taxes across the nation will begin to rise or public hospitals will start to close" (NACo release, 6/12). Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said they support a bill that would use federal Medicaid funds to reimburse counties for "essential treatment of undocumented patients." The legislation would also renew an expired federal emergency fund for reimbursing states, "doubling" the fund to $50 million a year. McCain said, "We are giving local authorities a terrible problem. The federal government must provide them with some relief" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 6/13).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.