Hospitals fight for reimbursements for immigrant emergency care

The battle over Medicaid reimbursements for treatment of undocumented immigrants continues, as an administrative law judge on Tuesday heard arguments about a rule issued by Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration, The News-Press reported.

Eighteen hospitals from the south Florida and Tampa Bay area are challenging the rule that would only give Medicaid payments for emergency services until a patient is deemed "stabilized," the article noted.

The hospitals, including the South Broward Hospital District and Lee Memorial Health System, claimed they were wrongly denied Medicaid reimbursement for treating undocumented immigrants and that the "stabilization" standard lacks clarity.

They filed the case in August, saying the policy change is invalid because the agency implemented it without first holding public hearings, FierceHealthFinance previously reported.

Meanwhile, although illegal immigrants won't qualify, immigrants living in the United States legally will gain Medicaid access in 2014 under health reform, Kaiser Health News reported.

But the reform provision won't end the battle in Florida, as hospital emergency rooms generally are not responsible for the ongoing medical needs of illegal immigrants, such as chemotherapy, physical therapy or prescriptions for chronic illnesses, KHN noted. 

For more:
- read the News-Press article
- here's the KHN article