Washington Times Looks at Impact of Undocumented Immigrants on Border Hospitals
The Washington Times today examines the impact undocumented immigrants have on hospitals along the U.S.-Mexican border in the second of a five-part series on immigration. Dozens of hospitals in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California have closed or are facing bankruptcy because of losses related to providing uncompensated care to undocumented immigrants. The Times reports that the problem for hospitals has been exacerbated by a policy initiated in 1994 by the U.S. Border Patrol that aimed to control the number of undocumented immigrants coming into the United States through urban areas along the border. As a result, the path of undocumented immigrants shifted to more remote areas along the border, according to a report by the General Accounting Office. The harsh terrain and weather in such areas forces thousands of undocumented immigrants to seek treatment at local hospitals. The Times reports the hospitals often must pay for treatment of undocumented immigrants because the Border Patrol only covers medical expenses for immigrants in its custody who are considered illegal. Typically, the Border Patrol transports immigrants to hospitals before arresting them, which means hospitals are responsible for treatment costs. Hospitals with emergency facilities are required to provide treatment to anyone who shows up there for care; the federal government "has been silent" on who pays for care of undocumented immigrants, the Times reports.
Reps. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) and Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) are sponsoring legislation that would create a pilot program under which HHS could reimburse health facilities and other providers for giving undocumented immigrants emergency treatment. In addition, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) is sponsoring a bill that would provide border states with $200 million each year in reimbursement for the cost of treating undocumented immigrants (Seper, Washington Times, 9/24). In an accompanying article, the Times features the Border Patrol's Search Trauma and Rescue Team, or Borstar, which tracks "distressed" people along the border and provides emergency medical care (Seper, Washington Times, 9/24).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.