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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Understanding the Value of Reimbursement for Immigrant Health Care

I’m Doug Hawthorne, president and CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

In May, President Bush announced that the government would begin paying hospitals and doctors for providing emergency care to illegal immigrants. The $1 billion designated by Congress will be available for services through September 2008, and Texas, which ranks second in illegal immigrants behind California, will receive $46 million this fiscal year.

While this amount falls far short of what is actually needed to offset the cost of providing emergency services to illegal immigrants, it’s at least an acknowledgement that something needs to be done.

Texas Health Resources hospitals serve all who need emergency care, regardless of citizenship status. We view this as a public health issue, and believe that our community is only as healthy as the individuals who live and work here. For example, when an illegal immigrant faces a health care emergency, the ripples can be far-reaching if services are not readily available.

This is a concern for all us, especially in Texas where an estimated 1.4 million illegal immigrants live and work, and the financial burden on hospitals and physicians continues to grow heavier each year.

This new federal funding, although small, at least provides some help as we continue to provide emergency care for all who live here – because the last time I checked, the health of our communities knows no borders.

For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based hospitals – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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