emergency medicaid

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Responding To Herald Story About Illegal Immigrants’ Medical Bills


A couple of days ago, The Boston Herald ran this story, saying:

U.S. taxpayers coughed up a staggering $35.7 million this year in free emergency health care for more than 52,000 illegal aliens in Massachusetts, sparking outrage from candidates and critics who back a tougher line on immigration. The figures — released by Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration under an order for the Secretary of State’s office and after more than a month of ducking questions — show illegal immigrants who belong to MassHealth Limited received $33.8 million in taxpayer-funded in-patient hospital care this year. They also made 6,160 visits to the state’s overburdened emergency rooms in the fiscal year ending in June for an additional cost of $1.9 million, a Herald analysis shows.

WBUR has received several responses from health policy experts challenging the story and pointing out problems with it, including this one from Victoria Pulos of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. Readers, what did you think of the story?

Yesterday’s Boston Herald included an inflammatory and misleading article about illegal immigrants receiving free medical care at taxpayer expense through the emergency Medicaid program. (Illegals’medical bills top $35.7M, Oct. 27, 2010).

First, it implies that providing emergency Medicaid is a partisan issue and that a different administration would not provide emergency Medicaid. Not true. Emergency Medicaid is federally mandated. In order for Massachusetts to participate in the Medicaid program, which brings in billions of dollars in federal revenue, it must provide emergency Medicaid. Every state in the U.S., including those like Arizona that are hardly welcoming to illegal immigrants, provides emergency Medicaid. No candidate is proposing to withdraw Massachusetts from the Medicaid program which now covers over 1.2 million U.S. citizens and legal residents in the state.
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