Skip to comments.U.S. to help fund immigrant care [Hospitals who treat illegal immigrants will get $1B]
Posted on 01/27/2004 8:02:43 PM PST by yonif
A little-publicized provision in the Medicare bill passed late last year will make about $1 billion available to hospitals, such as Jackson Memorial Hospital, that provide emergency care to undocumented immigrants.
The money would chip away at the growing amount of so-called ''charity care'' that many hospitals say poses a serious financial burden. In 2001, the last year for which figures were available, Jackson Memorial spent $37 million to treat about 6,600 uninsured and undocumented patients.
Nationally, some estimates by healthcare analysts place the total amount hospitals pay to treat undocumented people who cannot pay their medical bills at about $2 billion. Florida ranks behind California, Texas and Arizona in the amount its hospitals spend on care for undocumented patients.
Much of the new federal money, which will be allocated over four years, will be given directly to hospitals in states that have the highest numbers of undocumented migrants. The Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Medicare and Medicaid, must still hammer out a formula to decide how much to give to individual hospitals that qualify for the money.
Officials said they could not provide an estimate of how much money Florida hospitals would receive.
Federal officials said they hope to have an application ready by September for funds that will become available starting next year.
A TENSE ISSUE
The issue of providing healthcare to illegal immigrants has become an intensifying source of controversy as the cost of healthcare has continued to soar. The General Accounting Office is expected later this year to release a report that will examine the issue of hospitals paying to treat undocumented immigrants.
''We're very interested in any program that is going to help us offset losses. We will certainly be looking at aggressively pursuing the money,'' said Conchita Ruíz-Topinka, a spokeswoman for Jackson. ``We're not going to step away from the commitment to the community.''
A study released last year by the Florida Hospital Association found that in 2002, hospitals in the state spent at least $40.2 million to treat 705 uninsured foreign nationals.
GUARANTEE OF CARE
By law, hospitals cannot turn away patients who show up in their emergency rooms or ask them about their immigration status.
At Jackson, one of the busiest public hospitals in the country, hospital administrators ask patients only to prove that they live in Miami-Dade County.
Jackson's charity care is funded mostly by taxpayer dollars and fees collected from publicly or privately insured patients.
Other Florida hospitals have racked up considerable bills -- and headlines -- for their medical treatment of undocumented migrants.
Earlier this year, Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart was criticized for returning an uninsured, undocumented patient to his native Guatemala after he racked up $2 million in care over more than three years.
Hospital spokeswoman Lisa McCluskey said that the hospital would analyze the Medicare bill's provision for reimbursement. ''It's too early to say if we're going to apply,'' she said.
CARRYING THE BURDEN
U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, a Republican from Palm Beach County who pushed for the GAO study, said that compensating Florida is the right thing to do because the government has not done enough to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the state.
''It's a good first step. The burden that falls on these local hospitals has been extraordinary,'' Foley said.
.. what else is there to say? Speaks for itself.
Problem is WE are the goverments purse... they are taking our money to pay for the illegals we don't want here. Our goverment has long ago ceased being by the people, for the people.
You can be an illegal resident of the country, just as long as you are a "legal" resident of Miami-Dade County. Unbelievable!
I've got my own amnesty proposal. Offer anyone in this country illegally a free bus ticket home, and a chance to reapply for a legitimate work visa in six months. Anyone who doesn't leave the country voluntarily will be deported, and forever lose any chance of coming here legally. At the same time, seal the borders. If we have to build an electric fence from California to Florida, then build it.
My sentiments exactly - enough is enough!
Not since Clinton referred to taxes as 'contributions' have I seen a more weasly excuse for public spending. In the first place, it wasn't charity, and in the second place, Americans were paying the financial burden of illegal immigration health care by higher charges in the emergency room. The only difference is now the emergency room charges will go down a bit or stay the same, while taxes for increased federal spending will go up.
Either way, Americans will be shafted the same amount, because the same amount has to be paid.
Well now, hold on there mister, (or miss) that would be breaking the law.
Oh wait, our government rewards breaking the law.
No taxes and free health care for all Americans!!!!!
Any leader who wants to give our country away should learn that charity begins at home.
Acre? What am I talking about, each family would be happy with a hundreth of an acre! Let George feed 'em from his own trough.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.