- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2003

Arizona's two Republican senators yesterday introduced legislation calling for the federal government to reimburse states by $1.45 billion a year for the costs of federally mandated emergency medical treatment of illegal aliens.
Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain said the legislation, co-sponsored by Sens. Pete V. Domenici, New Mexico Republican; John Cornyn, Texas Republican; and Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, would bring relief to cash-strapped medical facilities now flooded with illegal aliens.
"This proposal will come to the aid of Arizona and other border states that experience the tremendous costs of providing federally mandated emergency treatment to illegal aliens which forces many facilities to close their doors to Arizonans needing help," said Mr. Kyl, chairman of the Senate Finance health care subcommittee.
"In the coming weeks, I will convene hearings to demonstrate the human costs of the federal government's neglect in this area, and will push for prompt consideration of this urgently needed legislation," he said.
Mr. McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said hospitals in Arizona have been hit "especially hard" by the cost of medical services for illegal immigrants, and that the proposed legislation would provide federal money for immigrant medical care.
A recent study by the U.S.-Mexico Border Counties Coalition found that health care facilities in 28 border counties in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas spent more than $200 million in one year for emergency medical treatment of illegal aliens, nearly $31 million just for the four border counties in Arizona.
The 133-page study said one in four dollars of uncompensated emergency medical costs for the Southwest border hospitals was attributable to undocumented migrants. The study calculated the losses at $79 million in California, $74 million in Texas, $31 million in Arizona and $6 million in New Mexico. It also said that emergency-service providers incurred another $13 million in uncompensated costs.
Emergency medical treatment for illegal aliens is required under a federal law known the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which forbids emergency rooms from turning any patient away who is in need of emergency care.

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