As Medicaid eligibility expands in Kentucky, so will subsidy of undocumented immigrants’ health care

As Washington lawmakers struggle to find consensus on immigration reform, U.S. taxpayers continue to shell out money to subsidize health care for illegal, undocumented immigrants. Those expenses will probably increase, with the full effect of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion in Kentucky.

Although rarely talked about, There is an “emergency Medicaid” that reimburses a hospital for emergency care to an immigrant who is in the country illegally, reports Sandhya Somashekhar of The Washington Post. The program defines “emergency” a “sudden-onset conditions that threaten life or could cause serious impairment.” It reimburses hospitals for emergency and maternity care given to people who, based on their income and other factors, would be eligible for regular Medicaid if they were legal citizens.

So, if an undocumented immigrant meets Kentucky’s requirements for Medicaid, which will soon be expanded to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, he or she qualifies for the emergency program.

In 2011 alone, the federal government paid out $1.3 billion under the program, reports Somashekhar. A large percentage of those illegal immigrants receiving care are pregnant women, and so the care that’s being provided is labor and delivery for children that will become U.S. citizens. “From the perspective of our health-care system, when people show up and they’re sick, the health-care system is obligated to take care of them,” Diane Rowland, executive vice president for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, told Somashekhar.

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One Reply to “As Medicaid eligibility expands in Kentucky, so will subsidy of undocumented immigrants’ health care”

  1. Jan Scherrer

    When you consider that in 2010, CMS improperly paid out 48 billion in fraud, mistakes, and other waste, the 1.3 billion to care for sick people, even undocumented ones, doesn't leave me with the sense of outrage that this entry attempts to elicit. These "illegal aliens" are men, women, and children.

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