Fresno County Insists Hospital Take Illegals

AP, May 4, 2006

FRESNO, Calif.—County officials warned a hospital that its plan to ask patients for proof of legal residency violates a court order prohibiting discrimination against undocumented immigrants.

Community Medical Center, which contracts with the county to treat poor residents at clinics, told employees Tuesday they should ask for proof of legal status before treating nonemergency patients.

A 1984 court order said it’s discriminatory for the county or its contracting agents to ask for residency information, county attorney Dennis Marshall told the hospital Wednesday.

Hospital officials said they’d based their decision on an opinion by the state attorney general that said a county is not obligated to provide nonemergency health care services to illegal immigrants.

“We based it on the law as we understood it,” said spokeswoman Michelle Van Valkenburg. “But the county contacted us so fast, we haven’t really changed anything.”

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