Can Dallas Co. Bill For Illegal Immigrant Care?

CBS11tv.com, June 22, 2006

Dallas—Mexico may be getting a medical bill from Dallas’ Parkland Hospital. After that announcement was made many are asking how the county can send a bill to a country for treating illegal immigrants?

Parkland Hospital can count the number of poor people from Collin County receiving Medicare care at the facility that is paid for with Dallas County tax dollars. Currently some 12,000 people have received care totaling $4.5 million.

Calculating the number of patients who are actual citizens of another country is more difficult.

“Because we do not ask, and aren’t allowed to ask, do we have an absolute number? We do not,” said John Gates, Parkland finance chief.

Despite not having specific documentation of illegal immigrants receiving medical care at Parkland, Dallas County Commissioners are set to send a letter to Mexico asking the government to pay for the patients who can’t.

Dallas County Judge Margaret Keliher says, “The emphasis here is to identify all people using Parkland Hospital who are not paying for Parkland Hospital.”

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Parkland officials say an estimated 11,000 illegal immigrant women gave birth at the hospital last year.

Billing another nation for the care may be more symbolic than sensible.

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