May 17, 2004

Hoyer on Health Care for Undocumented Aliens

The GOP has been trying to score some points with hard line anti-immigration folks by requiring hospitals to provide documentation for anybody receiving emergency treatment.  As usual when they do this kind of thing, the bill (The Undocumented Alien Emergency Medical Assistance Amendments of 2004) will accomplish very little except a symbolic slap in the face to immigrants.  This was Hoyer’s statement released just minutes ago:

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“I oppose this bill because it would impose burdensome and costly requirements onto a health care system already strained by other challenges and would undermine our nation’s health care.  And as the House Democratic Whip, I will urge Members to oppose this bill in order to defeat it.

“HR 3722 would require health care providers to turn into immigration officers and report undocumented patients as a condition of receiving federal reimbursement for emergency services to undocumented immigrants.  Health care providers would be forced to obtain a number of documents and information from patients, including signed statements regarding their citizenship, financial data, and even their fingerprints.  All of this information would then need to be transmitted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“The issue of undocumented immigration is a complex problem for our nation, but it is wrong and potentially dangerous to public health to force doctors and nurses to become immigration officers and take them away from their work of caring for patients, as well as scare immigrants away from receiving care for fear of deportation.

“By increasing the likelihood that serious public health problems, such as communicable diseases, could go untreated and unreported, this bill would undermine an already strapped public health care system.

“Because of these and other problems with the bill, it is opposed by numerous health care groups including the American Hospital Association, the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, and the National Association of Counties.”


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