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Wednesday, May 1st 2002

The Honorable Jeff Bingaman
United States Senate
703 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Bingaman:

On behalf of the American Hospital Association (AHA) and our more than 5,000 member hospitals, health care systems, networks, and other providers of care, I am writing to express our support for the Federal Responsibility for Immigrant Health Act of 2002, bipartisan legislation that you are introducing with Senator John McCain. By allowing states and health care providers to receive certain Medicaid and other funding for services provided to undocumented immigrants, your legislation represents a good first step in addressing this gap in our nation’s health care system.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimates that 275,000 undocumented immigrants enter the U.S. each year. Federal law mandates that hospitals and emergency medical personnel treat anyone who needs emergency care, including undocumented immigrants.

The federal government, however, only pays for the care of undocumented immigrants who are in the custody of the INS or other authorized federal agents. The costs of caring for those not in federal custody are therefore borne by the hospital or other health care provider, often through the indigent health care system, and represents an increasing burden on these hospitals.

But the problem goes beyond emergency care. Getting people the right care, at the right time, in the right place – from primary and preventive care to life-saving services – is the best way to improve community health and the most efficient use of heath care dollars.

We therefore applaud your leadership on this important issue and support swift enactment of this legislation.


Rick Pollack
Executive Vice President
American Hospital Association


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