Medicaid Payments for Undocumented Immigrants ‘Unfair’ to Low-Income, Legal Residents, Op-Ed States
An "open-door policy" over the past 10 years has resulted in "state agencies around the country that look the other way" when undocumented immigrants seek health care and other services, a practice that "routinely lets those who disobey the rules get many of the benefits of citizenship," Mike King, a member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial board, writes in an opinion piece. According to King, "rather than require proof of citizenship, hospitals and other health care providers often billed Medicaid for the services and asked questions later."
The provision of ongoing health care services to undocumented immigrants with "cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney failure is much more cost effective than waiting for them to need emergency hospitalization" and "saves lives," but the practice "is simply unfair to poor, legal ... residents who depend on the government program," King writes. He adds that, although advocates maintain "having Medicaid pay the bills for illegal immigrants is a pittance compared to the total cost" of the program, "no one really knows how much is being spent on them."
King concludes that critics of "illegal immigration ... are correct to insist government regulations regarding coverage be respected" but "would do well to advocate for private funding for needed medical services to those immigrants already here" (King, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/1).