Hospitals Will Be Reimbursed For Treating Illegal Immigrants

Published: May. 11, 2005 at 3:13 AM MST|Updated: May. 22, 2005 at 1:50 PM MST
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By Chris Francis, KOLD News 13

For years, local hospitals have been asking for help covering the cost of treating illegal immigrants who come into emergency rooms.  Now, the federal government says it will pick up part of the tab.

The feds have announced Arizona hospitacals could get up to $45 million a year for the next four years. Hospital administrators welcome the money, even though they say it will only cover a third of what they're paying.

"It's something we greatly appreciate because this has been such a drain on our hospitals, but it is not the long-term solution," says Gregory Pivirotto, the CEO of University Medical Center in Tucson. "The long-term solution is having jobs in mexico so people don't feel forced to come here, and having good health care in mexico so people don't feel forced to come here."

The high cost of treating illegal immigrants led to Tucson Medical Center closing down its trauma unit in 2003.

Hospital administrators say it's hard to get an exact figure on how much they spend treating illegal immigrants, but a 2000 congressional study found Pima County provided more than $24 million in emergency medical care to undocumented immigrants.