Reimbursement for immigrant care
Arizona congressmen introduced legislation to reimburse hospitals in border states for providing care to undocumented aliens. The bill, introduced late last week by Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain, both Republicans, seeks $1.45 billion per year for four years. Rep. Jim Kolbe, also a Republican, introduced similar legislation in the House. Under federal law, hospitals must treat patients regardless of immigrant status. Hospitals in states such as Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas claim to spend hundreds of millions annually caring for undocumented aliens without adequate reimbursement.
Bill backs error database
The House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously passed a bill last week to create a voluntary, national database for medical errors and establish grants to help providers adopt technology to improve patient safety. Separately, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed a bill to continue a federal program that supports state development of trauma systems and decrease the requirements for participation.
Group insurance support
Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) and Rep. Calvin Dooley (D-Calif.) introduced legislation allowing small businesses more power to create group insurance plans. Under the Small Business Health Fairness Act, such companies and the self-employed would be able to band together through trade and professional associations and have insurance companies compete for their business. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao has thrown her support behind the bill, citing concern that 85% of the 41 million uninsured Americans belong to working families.