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News of the Day ... In Perspective

09/23/2006

Federal money for illegal aliens unused; fraud and identity theft rampant

Only about 15% of the $1 billion allocated by the federal government to pay for care of illegal aliens has been claimed 9 months into the program.

Herb Kuhn, Director of the CMS Center for Medicare Management, said “we are not really certain why providers are not claiming the money.”

The “biggest deterrent” is completing the paperwork, which providers say is time-consuming and can “offset any money gained”—especially considering how the federal government trims hospital bills (Franklin Japsen, Chicago Tribune 9/17/06).

“It’s a lot of work for 15 cents on the dollar,” stated James Dickson, chief executive officer at Copper Queen Community Hospital in Bisbee, Arizona.

Because of beefed-up border enforcement, the Bisbee hospitals costs are down to $50,000 to $60,000 a year, compared to $450,000 a couple of years ago. Illegal border crossers have apparently been diverted to other areas. Costs at University Medical Center in Tucson are up to $4 to $5 million this year, compared to $3.5 million last year.

Hospital officials are told not to ask whether somebody is undocumented but to seek proof of birth outside the U.S., such as a driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate. Information is not supposed to be provided to immigration officials, but some advocacy groups are skeptical. They say illegals will avoid medical care if they fear being reported. (Lourdes Medrano, Ariz Daily Star 9/20/06).

Medical facilities also fear being cited for discrimination.

According to the RAND Corporation, about 20 percent of illegals have employer-provided health insurance. The study also found that 60 percent were uninsured and 15 percent partially insured. Many rely on federally qualified health clinics, school-based clinics, and charity clinics, where tighter identification standards do not apply. (Rachel Brand and Rosa Ramirez, Rocky Mountain News 8/28/06).

Linda Gorman of the Independence Institute adds some facts that Ms. Brand omitted. The strained low-cost clinics that care for the uninsured just got almost 50 percent of the recently passed tobacco tax increase. An unknown number of illegal aliens are obtaining Medicaid funds, for which they are by law ineligible, by using fake documents. The Department of Motor Vehicles caught 1,700 illegals trying to pass fake documents in the first month of a new requirement that the DMV actually check IDs. State agencies no longer accept birth certificates because of widespread fraud, but social services accept drivers’ licenses, and the DMV accepts birth certificates. An additional Medicaid enrollment driver is anchor babies.

Illegal aliens make up nearly one of every 20 workers in the U.S., according to the Pew Hispanic Center, and most are using fraudulent Social Security numbers, which can be bought in any immigrant community or in Mexico. Each year, the Social Security Administration receives 8 to 9 million earnings reports from the Internal Revenue Service filed under names that do not match the Social Security numbers. In 2000, the Utah Attorney General found that the Social Security numbers of 132,000 people in that state were being used by other people, far more than the state could prosecute. Some families have been denied public assistance because someone was working under their Social Security number (Ariz. Daily Star 9/4/06).

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