Saturday, December 13, 2008

Texas spends $677 million per year for illegal aliens' health care

Texas and its local hospital districts spend an estimated $677 million per year providing health care to illegal aliens. A Texas Health and Human Services Commission study shows that most of the money was spent by local hospital districts for the illegals’ care during a recent fiscal year.

State lawmakers were not surprised at the amount, and said they hoped the report, required by the 2007 Legislature, will help prompt Congress to pass immigration reform legislation. Federal law requires hospitals and ambulance services to provide care to anyone needing emergency treatment regardless of their citizenship, legal status or ability to pay.

The report underestimated the cost of care to illegals because it did not include figures for the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, which functions like a hospital district by providing safety-net services. It spends $140 million annually on illegal alien care.

State Rep. Warren Chisum, the House Appropriations Committee chairman, said the report puts a number on health care costs that the state cannot do anything about. 'Show it to our congressman, I guess. Tell him, 'Merry Christmas,' Chisum quipped. 'This is something we can look at the federal government and say, 'You guys ought to do a better job of guarding your borders or at least pay for 'em if you're going to allow them to come over here.' '

One of the most prominent critics of illegal immigration, Rep. Leo Berman, said he is glad that Congress is getting the report. 'I'd like to bill the United States government,' he said, 'and have them pay Texas for the cost of the benefits that they require us to provide to illegal aliens.'

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