The $1 billion in Federal dollars set aside for this program (see earlier post on the subject) is largely untouched — only about 15% of available monies have been claimed. Reasons cited in a Chicago Tribune story range from lack of interest in complying with onerous documentation requirements for a 33-cents-on-the-dollar payment, to concern that asking undocumented aliens to document that they are undocumented will scare them away from the health care system, to opposition to diverting U.S. health care dollars away from U.S. citizens and a desire to avoid becoming a magnet for uninsured patients. Hospitals also end up eating the cost of an inpatient stay longer than necessary for stabilization.
It seems to me that the government contractor should be encouraged to streamline the administration of the program and offer further training on confirming eligibility without scaring off patients. Could we design a better health care financing system if we were starting from scratch? Sure. But this program can be useful both to its intended beneficiaries and the providers serving their needs.
What do you think?