The main issue hospital administrators say they face in treating undocumented immigrants is collecting payment for services rendered. In an effort to address this burgeoning problem, the federal government agreed to pay $250 million per year for fiscal years 2005 through 2008 directly to providers who submit “qualified claims”—but meeting that standard has proven to be a sticking point for many providers looking to get paid. To qualify for Section 1011 reimbursement, each hospital must fulfill certain eligibility requirements, such as asking patients whether they are eligible for Medicaid, have a border-crossing card and are foreign-born.
“In September we billed $2.94 million and we got $664,000. At the end of the second quarter of our last billing, we billed $2.547 million, and we got $523,389,” says Anderson. So far, providers in Texas have submitted claims totaling $65.4 million to the federal government, according to figures from the Texas Hospital Association, and have received payments of approximately $14.3 million.