Senators Propose Aid for Emergency Care for Undocumented Immigrants
A bipartisan group of senators and representatives yesterday proposed legislation that would give states providing a large amount of uncompensated care to undocumented immigrants $1.45 billion in aid each year over five years, the AP/Salt Lake Tribune reports (AP/Salt Lake Tribune, 3/5). Hospitals are required by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act to treat all patients requiring emergency care, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. Providing care to undocumented immigrants costs about $1.45 billion per year, the Washington Times reports. A U.S.-Mexico Border Counties Coalition study of 24 U.S. counties along the Mexico border estimated that the hospitals' costs for providing care to undocumented immigrants exceeded $200 million a year. Further, the study says that one of every four dollars of uncompensated care costs can be attributed to treating undocumented immigrants. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), chair of the Senate Finance Health Subcommittee and a bill sponsor, said, "Due in part to these extraordinary costs, many Arizona hospitals face serious financial difficulties, some have cut back services, and state residents have seen longer lines and fewer doctors to care for them." According to Kyl, hospitals and other providers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas are the most impacted by uncompensated care costs from treating undocumented immigrants (Seper, Washington Times, 3/5).
Under the proposed legislation, communities and hospitals in California would receive $422 million, Texas would receive $286 million, Arizona would be given $235 million, New York would receive $71 million and other states would receive less aid, down to $1 million for states with few undocumented immigrants, such as Delaware and Alaska (AP/Salt Lake Tribune, 3/5). Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) has introduced a companion bill in the House. Supporters of the legislation include Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), John McCain (R-Ariz.), as well as Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.), Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) and John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) (Washington Times, 3/5). The National Association of Counties formally endorsed the legislation yesterday, saying that counties "shouldn't have to bear the costs for the federal government's failure to patrol the borders," AP/Salt Lake Tribune reports (AP/Salt Lake Tribune, 3/5).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.