Federal officials have withdrawn a controversial plan to have hospitals
ask emergency department patients about their immigration status.
The proposal was part of last year’s Medicare prescription drug
law that will provide $1 billion over 4 years to hospitals to help cover emergency
department costs for treating uninsured illegal immigrants.
Medicare officials said hospitals needed to ask about a patient’s
residency status to determine if the federal money was being spent appropriately
for treating an undocumented alien. But public health and immigrant advocates
worried that asking someone their immigration status would make an undocumented
person more likely to avoid emergency departments and have their medical condition
get worse or spread disease to others.
Mitka M. Hospitals and Immigrant Status. JAMA. 2004;292(18):2205. doi:10.1001/jama.292.18.2205-c