Health Care for Undocumented Immigrants Is Complex

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Innovative models needed for addressing health care for undocumented immigrants
Innovative models needed for addressing health care for undocumented immigrants

(HealthDay News) -- In a perspective piece published in the New England Journal of Medicine, health care for undocumented immigrants is addressed in the context of an anti-immigration federal policy environment.

A. Taylor Kelley, MD, MPH, from the University of Michigan Medical School, and Renuka Tipirneni, MD, from the University of Michigan -- both in Ann Arbor, discuss the need for innovative models to address health care for undocumented immigrants.

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The researchers note that many states have track records of creating innovative health policy solutions for undocumented immigrants. For example, after a study in Houston demonstrated that providing standard dialysis could reduce costs compared with emergency-only dialysis, several states have allowed state funds to be used for outpatient dialysis for undocumented migrants with end-stage renal disease. Undocumented immigrants are not allowed to obtain Medicaid or Medicare coverage or purchase plans as part of the Affordable Care Act. Policies focused on funding safety-net care may be supported and could be beneficial for states that wish to fund care for undocumented immigrants. These include expansions of federal funding for uncompensated care pools, and securing additional funding by testing new models of care delivery, although this funding is temporary.

"At this critical moment, it remains to be seen whether the federal government will champion state flexibility even when states' proposed policies conflict with the administration's attitudes in controversial areas such as immigration," the authors write.

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