Los Angeles Times Editorial Calls for Renewal of Federal Aid for Hospitals Providing Emergency Care to Undocumented Immigrants
The expiration of a federal law that provides some states with money toward the cost of emergency hospital care for undocumented immigrants "should not morph into a permanent retreat," a Los Angeles Times editorial states. As part of the 2003 Medicare law, Congress appropriated $1.4 billion annually to border states for undocumented immigrants' emergency care as a "stopgap measure until the arrival of comprehensive immigration reform," according to the Times.
That program is set to expire on Tuesday, and the possibility of Congress passing comprehensive immigration reform "now is a distant dream," the editorial states, adding, "Caring for [undocumented] immigrants is not the main reason nearly 50% of hospitals in California are operating in the red -- or why 11 in Southern California, mostly in the Los Angeles area, have closed since 2004 -- but it is a factor."
While many poor patients who receive hospital care are eligible for Medicaid, undocumented immigrants "are not, so hospitals that care for them fulfill their ethical and legal obligations at the expense of their financial health," according to the editorial. The editorial concludes, "Both the law and human decency forbid denying care to sick and injured people, but that responsibility shouldn't fall solely on hospitals" (Los Angeles Times, 9/29).