Federal Funding for Unauthorized Aliens' Emergency Medical Expenses [Updated October 18, 2004]   [open pdf - 85KB]

"There has been interest in the amount of money spent, as well as the amount of federal funds available to provide emergency medical care to unauthorized (illegal) aliens in the United States. It is extremely difficult to ascertain the amount of money spent for emergency medical care for unauthorized aliens since most hospitals do not ask patients their immigration status. Additionally, prior to the passage of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-173) on December 8, 2003 there were no federal funds available for the specific purpose of reimbursing hospitals or states for emergency medical care provided to unauthorized aliens (undocumented immigrants). Although the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) barred unauthorized aliens from receiving most Medicaid benefits, they are eligible for emergency Medicaid services. Unauthorized aliens are also eligible for emergency medical services provided by the states. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-173) signed into law on December 8, 2003 includes a provision, §1011, to provide reimbursement to states for emergency care afforded to unauthorized aliens. For each fiscal year FY2005-FY2008 the provision appropriates $250 million to states to be distributed based on estimates of the number of undocumented aliens residing in the state and on the number of apprehensions for the six states with the highest number of apprehensions. This program is similar to one created in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA97) which had expired."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL31630
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