Thursday, January 14, 2010

Calls to Include Coverage of Immigrants in Health Care Bill

From The New York Times blog:

The leader of New York City’s massive public hospital system warned this week that the health care bills in Congress would burden safety net hospitals by failing to provide coverage for uninsured immigrants while also reducing federal payments for indigent care.

In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Alan D. Aviles, president of the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, called for congressional conferees to lift the existing five-year ban on federal health benefits for legal immigrants. Neither the Senate bill nor the House bill currently do so. Mr. Aviles also encouraged the Senate to accept House language to allow illegal immigrants to buy health coverage on new government exchanges at full cost.

To do otherwise, he said, “makes no practical sense and is needlessly punitive.”The call was hosted by National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights group, and included the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, which also supports extending benefits to immigrants.

“These exclusions do not eliminate the cost of care for these individuals and families,” Mr. Aviles said. “They merely transfer the costs to providers. And often the uncompensated care burden will be shouldered disproportionately by safety net systems like ours simply because we will not turn these uninsured immigrant patients away.” He added: “We will necessarily have to divert resources meant to support many of the essential services we provide to the community at large.”

Under both bills, federal payments to hospitals that handle large numbers of uninsured patients would decline gradually as more Americans gained coverage. The bills would make insurance mandatory for most people, and the government would subsidize the cost of policies for those with low incomes. Illegal immigrants would not be eligible for the subsidies, just as they typically are not now eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.


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1 Comments:

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December 20, 2010 at 11:12 PM  

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