U.S. to pay medical bills for illegal immigrants

It may now be more financially viable to provide care for illegal aliens than US citizens without insurance: CNN.com – U.S.to pay medical bills for illegal immigrants.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Health care providers can charge the government for emergency care provided to illegal aliens beginning Tuesday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued final guidance Monday that sets up a system for reimbursement. Lawmakers set aside $1 billion over four years for the program, created by Medicare legislation passed in 2003.

For hospitals in border states, the additional money can mean the difference between running a profitable business or an unprofitable one, said Don May, vice president of policy for the American Hospital Association….

Two-thirds of the money will be distributed to health care providers based on a state’s percentage of undocumented aliens.  The remaining third will go to providers in the six states with the largest number of arrests of undocumented aliens.

Hmm.  Where did this ‘most arrests’ clause come from?  However, the government is (slowly) starting to fund at least one of its mandates.

This’ll still be only pennies on the dollar (in the government healthcare funding style), but it’s better than nothing.



  1. I haven’t looked into the details…….

    How do you identify someone as “illegal” for the purpose of submitting a bill to some government entity? I thought we weren’t supposed to be inquiring into the legal immigration status of people, either physicians looking at patients, police dealing with witnesses and suspects, etc.

    How is the legal status of the patient audited? As in, I could see this system used as a way to get payment for indigent LEGAL immigrants, or for that matter, the indigent native-born, if you didn’t expect payment from the patient.

  2. GruntDoc says:

    It’s not illegal as to inquire about immigration status. There are areas of the country that have decided they wanted to be havens for illegals and have written rules preventing their cops from asking (LA comes to mind), but it’s not illegal.

    Actually, I think it’s better to just identify someone as illegal instead of making them come up with a fake ID and SSN, and screw up someone else down the line.

    Doesn’t change what we do in medicine, by the way.

  3. I agree that this is “better than nothing,” and may get the feds to start thinking about how much money illegal immigration costs each and every one of us. The money given to hospitals will not come close to defraying the total costs of their care, but it is at least a recognition that these folks tax our system. Wouldn’t it be nice of they recognized that docs are providing a lot of free care to these patients as well?