California Gov. Pete Wilson has filed a lawsuit against the federal government, seeking nearly $370 million that it will cost the state this year to provide medical treatment for illegal immigrants.
The governor announced the suit's filing at a news conference at White Memorial Medical Center in Los Ange- les last week and again before a gathering of 500 members of the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems in Sacramento meeting for their annual Legislative Day.
With clinicians leaving the system and the threat of more emergency room closures, "all of our hospitals are victims of the failure of the federal government" to control its borders. The government should assume the full cost of treating about 300,000 undocumented residents in California this year, he said. Under Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid plan, the federal government now pays half.
"No one is suggesting...denying emergency services to those in need, but the government should pay for all of it and they should pay now," he said.
Florida filed a similar suit in April (April 18, p. 22). The governors of several other states are considering filing such suits, Mr. Wilson said.
CAHHS fully supports the governor's suit, said C. Duane Dauner, the association's president.
Other CAHHS priorities include opposing proposed hospital reimbursement cuts of $415.4 million for the next fiscal year.
CAHHS also supports a compromise hospital seismic safety bill that would phase in retrofitting over 20 years at a cost of $20 billion. Unlike other seismic safety bills before the Legislature, the compromise measure gives hospitals enough time to make necessary changes, Mr. Dauner said.