Wednesday, May 8th 2002
Dear Senate Finance Committee Member:
The undersigned hospital organizations are writing to express support for the Immigrant Children's Health Improvement Act (H.R. 1143, S. 582). We believe it is a mistake to deny states the option to provide Medicaid or SCHIP coverage to legal immigrant children because of their date of entry. Tragically, such a policy will inevitably mean that some children develop health complications that could have been prevented. In addition to causing needless suffering, the long-term effects of inadequate health care services can prevent children from making a full economic contribution as they grow into adulthood. Similarly, we believe it is arbitrary to deny needed prenatal care to lawfully present pregnant women simply because they arrived after a certain date. From an economic and health perspective, the benefits of investing in prenatal care are well established.
As hospital organizations, the undersigned represent a broad spectrum of providers who deliver important health care services to hundreds of thousands of lawfully present but uninsured immigrant women and children each year. Because legal immigrants frequently lack comprehensive health insurance coverage, these services are often provided free of charge or in a costly emergency care setting. Until Congress takes action to address the arbitrary cut-off date for legal immigrants to receive public benefits such as Medicaid and SCHIP, caring for legal immigrants will continue to add to the financial burden already faced by many hospitals across the country. Indeed, with hospitals and health care providers shouldering a host of new emergency response and bioterrorism preparedness-related responsibilities, the need for congressional action on this issue is more critical than ever.
Swift enactment of this legislation is a priority for the undersigned organizations. We appreciate your leadership on this important public health concern and urge your support on this pressing issue.
American Hospital Association
Association of American Medical Colleges
Catholic Health Association of the United States
Federation of American Hospitals
Healthcare Financial Management Association
National Association of Children's Hospitals
National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems
National Association of Urban Hospitals