Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ACP Calls for National Strategy on Healthcare for Immigrants

A South Carolina bill that would make it illegal to transport undocumented persons to a hospital and other legislative efforts to deny medical services to immigrants have prompted calls from the American College of Physicians (ACP) for a national policy to override such state rules.

"We need to have some way to make sure everybody gets healthcare," said Virginia Hood, MD, president of the ACP and an internist with Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, VT. "There [are] all kinds of legislation and regulations coming out at the state level which could have an effect on the provision of healthcare for immigrants, and we think this isn't something that can be dealt with on a state-by-state basis. There needs to be a national strategy."

The South Carolina bill, she says, "would make it illegal to transport immigrants to a hospital anywhere."

Other legislation introduced in several other states, she says, would dictate that "before someone could be treated in an emergency room, or even after they're treated, immigration status should be documented or reported," she says. This inappropriately turns doctors and paramedics into immigration officials.

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