County Hospitals Receive Funding for Immigrant Care
Sixteen Orange County hospitals received a total of $1.3 million in federal funding for providing emergency care to uninsured, undocumented immigrants last year, the Orange County Register reports (Orange County Register, 6/28).
Congress in 2003 approved $1 billion over four years for hospitals, physicians and ambulances that provide emergency care to undocumented immigrants. To qualify for the funding, hospitals must show that ED patients are ineligible for government-sponsored health insurance programs and that they were born outside the U.S.
The Register reports that providing such information "can be a complicated process" since hospitals are instructed not to ask directly about immigration status and must rely on noting invalid Social Security numbers or submitting a copy of a foreign passport, for instance (Taxin/Perkes, Orange County Register, 6/28).
More than 250 California hospitals were eligible for $71 million for care provided in 2005 under the program. Hospitals have collected $12 million of those funds. Nationwide, states have received 23% of available funding, according to CMS (Orange County Register, 6/28).
University of California-Irvine Medical Center received nearly two-thirds of the funding received in Orange County, or about $850,000. According to state records, the hospital spent about $49 million on uncompensated care in 2004 (Taxin/Perkes, Orange County Register, 6/28).
In related news, Orange County supervisors on Tuesday approved a $5.56 billion budget for fiscal year 2006-2007 that includes $10 million in funding for medical care for low-income residents. The funding will be distributed to hospitals and clinics countywide (Berthelsen, Los Angeles Times, 6/28).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.