Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Impact on hospitals' Uncompensated care cost

Hospitals generally do not collect information on their patients’ immigration
status, and as a result, an accurate assessment of undocumented aliens’
impact on hospitals’ uncompensated care costs—those not paid by patients
or by insurance—remains elusive. GAO attempted to examine the
relationship between uncompensated care and undocumented aliens by
surveying hospitals, but because of a low response rate to key survey
questions and challenges in estimating the proportion of hospital care
provided to undocumented aliens, GAO could not determine the effect of
undocumented aliens on hospitals’ uncompensated care costs.

Federal funding has been available from several sources to help hospitals
cover the costs of care for undocumented aliens. The sources include
Medicaid coverage for emergency medical services for eligible
undocumented aliens, supplemental Medicaid payments to hospitals treating
a disproportionate share of low-income patients, and funds provided to 12
states by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (see table). In addition, the
recently enacted Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and
Modernization Act of 2003 appropriated $1 billion over fiscal years 2005
through 2008 for payments to hospitals and other providers for emergency
services provided to undocumented and certain other aliens. By September
1, 2004, the Secretary of Health and Human Services must establish a
process for hospitals and other providers to request payments under the

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