Safety-net funding for hospitals serving communities that include undocumented immigrants needs to be preserved in order to preserve population health, write Hastings Center research scholars Nancy Berlinger and Michael Gusmano in a New York Times letter to the editor. The authors co-direct a project on access to health care for undocumented immigrants at The Hastings Center.
The letter was in response to “Hospitals Fear Cuts in Aid for Care to Illegal Immigrants,” an article that recently appeared on the front page. The article examined challenges to hospitals that care for undocumented immigrants due to the new health reform law. According to the article, the $20 million in federal aid that the nation’s hospitals receive for providing such care will be cut in half under the Affordable Care Act. An estimated 11 million people are undocumented immigrants, the article reports.
Noting that 80 percent of undocumented immigrants are Hispanic, Berlinger and Gusmano warn in their letter that improving the health of the American Hispanic population will be harder if this group is left out. “The health secretary has the authority to create a formula to direct hospital safety-net funds,” they write. “As undocumented immigrants will continue to need the safety net, the funding formula should give priority to communities where undocumented immigrants live, work and raise families.”