We're trying to look for a fair way to balance the next budget, it's going to be the worst budget I've dealt with in my time and that's going back 26 years." State Representative Rene Oliveira returning to the valley from Austin where the legislature was briefed on the millions of dollars being spent on uncompensated health care in Texas. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission reports the estimated cost of services and benefits provided to undocumented immigrants in 2009 is 96 million dollars. Texas public hospitals report their uncompensated care for undocumented immigrants reached nearly 717 million dollars. Harlingen Medical Center's Vice President of Clinical Services says taking on patients who can't pay is a burden, but can't be avoided since no one who requires medical attention is turned away.
Brenda Ivory says, "We do need to provide quality care. We need to treat anybody and everybody that comes through our doors and there is no way to offset that cost. If someone is not able to pay for their hospitalization, there's no payment for that stay." Not only are there a vast amount of uninsured residents legally living in the valley that are considered indigent, the close proximity to the border increases the cases of illegal immigrants seeking medical attention without having to declare their status and according to lawmakers the funds they're pulling from are going to have to take a hit.
Those programs could include Texas Emergency Medicaid and the Children TMs Health Insurance Program.
Oliveira says, "We're looking at having cuts for everyone including citizens, residents, as well as people without documents." They're all stuck between a rock and a hard place while the budget shortfall continues to rise.
Oliveira says, In some instances we can't do it, and in other instances it would be plain stupid Disease doesn't know if you have a green card, or if you are undocumented or if you're a United States citizen. A communicable disease is a communicable disease." Click here to read the full report from the Texas Health & Human Services Commission