[Marxism] Feds turn hospitals into adjunct of la migra

acpollack2 at juno.com acpollack2 at juno.com
Tue May 10 07:13:25 MDT 2005

The Times headline is complete b.s. It's not about increasing care. Months ago when an even worse version of this proposal was floated immigrants' rights groups pointed out the multiple problems (including life-threatening ones) with asking undocumented workers for documents in order to get medical care, problems that remain in this version of the regulation.
And to add insult to injury the dollar amount provided to hospitals in return for playing la migra is a fraction of what's needed for the care itself.

May 10, 2005
Payments to Help Hospitals Care for Illegal Immigrants
WASHINGTON, May 9 - The Bush administration announced on Monday that it would start paying hospitals and doctors for providing emergency care to illegal immigrants.

The money, totaling $1 billion, will be available for services provided from Tuesday through September 2008. Congress provided the money as part of the 2003 law that expanded Medicare to cover prescription drugs, but the new payments have nothing to do with the Medicare program.

Members of Congress from border states, like Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, had sought the money. They said the treatment of illegal immigrants imposed a huge financial burden on many hospitals, which are required to provide emergency care to patients who need it, regardless of their immigration status or ability to pay.

Under the new program, hospitals are supposed to ask patients for certain documents to substantiate claims for payment. But Dr. Mark B. McClellan, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said a hospital should not directly ask a patient "if he or she is an undocumented alien."

Instead, Dr. McClellan said, hospitals can try to establish a patient's status by analyzing the answers to "indirect questions": Is the person eligible for Medicaid? (If so, payment is generally not available under the new program.) Has the person reported a foreign place of birth? Does the person have a border-crossing card like those issued to Mexican citizens? Does the person have a foreign passport, a foreign driver's license or a foreign identification card?

The Bush administration abandoned a proposal that would have required many hospitals to ask patients if they were United States citizens or legal immigrants. 

"In no circumstances are hospitals required to ask people about their citizenship status," Dr. McClellan said on Monday.

Hospital executives and immigrant rights groups had said such questions would deter illegal immigrants from seeking hospital care and could lead to serious public health problems by increasing the spread of communicable diseases.

Cecilia Muñoz, a vice president of the National Council of La Raza, a Latino civil rights group, said the new requirements were an improvement over the original proposal but would still discourage some immigrants from seeking treatment.

"Hospitals will have to ask confusing, highly technical questions about immigration documents," Ms. Muñoz said. "That will create a perception in the Latino community that you have to show your papers in order to get emergency care. That's a misperception, but it may be enough to deter some people from seeking care."

The new program is run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. McClellan said the department would not provide information about illegal immigrants to law enforcement officials for use in "routine civil immigration proceedings." But in rare cases, he said, the information may be used in criminal investigations.

The largest allocations this fiscal year are going to California, which will receive $70.8 million; Texas, $46 million; Arizona, $45 million; New York, $12.3 million; Illinois, $10.3 million; Florida, $8.7 million; and New Mexico, $5.1 million.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, said she was pleased that the money was being made available, even as she called for new efforts to "secure our borders."

Before tapping the new program, hospitals and doctors must seek payment from other sources, like Medicaid and private insurers.

The Bush administration emphasized that hospitals "should not single out individuals who look or sound foreign for closer scrutiny."

"Hospital and other provider personnel may not selectively screen individuals regarding their eligibility status on the basis of race, color or national origin," the guidelines say.

Jan Emerson, a spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association, said California hospitals provided $500 million a year in emergency care for illegal immigrants, seven times the amount of the federal grant. But Ms. Emerson welcomed the new assistance, saying: "This is a highly symbolic first step. The federal government is finally acknowledging that it has a responsibility to pay for health care provided to illegal immigrants."

Under the guidelines, hospitals are expected to make photocopies of documents indicating a patient's immigration status. They will not ordinarily have to submit such documents to the government, but must keep them for review by federal auditors.

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