Don’t Require Hospitals to Screen Immigration Status of Uninsured Patients

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Target: Rep. Steve Smith, Arizona.

Goal: Don’t require hospitals to screen the immigration status of uninsured patients and immediately report those who do not have the required paperwork to the immigration authorities.

A new bill introduced by Arizona lawmaker Rep. Steve Smith would require hospitals to screen uninsured patients before providing medical care. Under the proposed law, patients found lacking the paperwork to prove their legal residency would be denied healthcare and immediately reported to the proper authorities. Smith suggested that it was a hospital’s civic duty to protect the rights of legal U.S. residents by ensuring that no individual took advantage of a benefit he or she was not entitled to. The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association has already spoken out against turning hospitals into a tool for immigration enforcement, stating that industries could not be asked to check their customers’ citizenship. The National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights and National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health called the bill a method to legalize harassment.

19% of Arizona’s population already lacks health insurance, and such a bill could deter immigrant families from seeking medical care. Undocumented immigrants often face an increased risk of workplace injuries as employers of undocumented workers understand that employees will not risk complaining to authorities for fear of detection.

Discrimination on the basis of citizenship and/or legal residency should not be occurring within the walls of a hospital, where immediate care can be the difference between life and death. Sign the petition to below to condemn the introduction of this bill, and to stop the bill from being passed.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Rep. Steve Smith,

Recently you introduced a bill that would require hospitals to confirm that uninsured patients were in the United States legally before providing them with any form of medical care. The bill would also require hospitals to report any individuals without the proper paperwork to the immigration authorities. This bill amounts to legalized harassment, and it is particularly unfortunate that the proposed targets are hospitals, which provide care to many critically ill individuals.

I am writing to condemn the introduction of this bill and to insist that the bill not be passed. Hospitals are not the place to be screening individuals on the basis of their residency. At any hospital, an individual’s life should carry more weight than the lawfulness of their presence in the United States.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: goulao @ flickr.

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