While the Obama Administration halts deportations to work on its secret amnestyplan, hospitals across the U.S. are getting stuck with the exorbitant tab of medically treating illegal immigrants and some are finally demanding compensation from the federal government.
The group that represents most of the nation’s hospitals and medical providers recently urged President Obama to work with Congress to reimburse them for the monstrous cost of treating illegal immigrants. Federal law requires facilities to “treat and stabilize individuals” regardless of their immigration status, but federal support for the services remains “virtually nonexistent,”according to a letter submitted by the American Hospital Association to the president.
This week officials in California, the state with the largest concentration of illegal immigrants, joined the call for federal compensation after revealing that hospitals there spend about $1.25 billionannually to care for illegal aliens. The figure skyrocketed from $1.05 billion in 2007, according to California Hospital Association figures quoted in a local news report.
The problem will only get worst, according to officials, who say the $1.25 billion for 2010 could actually be higher. They complain that federal law forces them to treat patients in emergency rooms regardless of immigration status yet they get stuck with the financial burden. This has forced many hospitals to curtail services or close beds and could ultimately compromise healthcare.
Nationwide, U.S. taxpayers spend tens of billions of dollars annually to provide free medical care for illegal immigrants with states that border Mexico taking the biggest hit. Adding to the problem is the fact that Mexico, the country that provides the largest amount of illegal immigrants in the U.S., has long promoted America’s generous public health centers. It even operates a Spanish-language program (Ventanillas de Salud, Health Windows) in about a dozen U.S. cities that refers its nationals—living in the country illegally—to publicly funded health centers where they can get free medical care without being turned over to immigration authorities.