Hospital in Crisis: Illegal Immigrants’ Unpaid Bills

Denver Health, the number one safety net hospital in Denver, Colorado, is in crisis mode — with $10 million worth of “uncompensated care” rendered to undocumented migrants and homeless people last year for a total $136 million in unpaid care for patients who could not pay.

The health care system attributes the rise in costs to the record influx of immigrants who broke the law to be in the United States. The health system says tens of thousands of hospital visits from immigrants from South and Central America, racking up hefty bills they could not pay, accounted for a large amount of the total according to a report in the Denver Gazette.

“Overall, these patients don’t have medical insurance,” Dr. Taylor McCormick explained. The associate director of Pediatrics Emergency Medicine at Denver Health said, “Denver Health is eating the cost for many of these visits.” There has been a 10% – 15% increase in the need for pediatric care — in addition to growing adult hospital visits for valuable free services.

Denver Health has rendered uncompensated services to a flood of immigrants who cannot afford the bill and have no medical insurance. The hospital group does not ask or keep records of the immigration status of its patients.

The Gazette reports that immigrants have come from Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela — with the “lion share” the paper says, from Venezuela, where 7 million people have moved away to flee the brutal socialist regime.

Although Denver Health is not an official part of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, it is a safety net for the hospital system funded partially by Denver taxes.

“What I think is not being said is that Denver Health is at a critical, critical point and that we need to take this up in 2024,” Denver Health CEO Donna Lynne told the Denver City Council. “Because our costs exceed our revenues, we are turning down patients every day, particularly in the area of mental health and substance abuse,” Lynne said, according to the Denver Post.

Although the hospital has racked up $136 million in unpaid bills from patients, the state of Colorado and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are refusing to help reimburse the charitable Denver hospital for its costs to help out illegal immigrants with free medical services.

This situation is a clear example of the unintended consequences of illegal immigration and the strain it puts on the healthcare system. It is crucial for policymakers to address the issue and find a solution that balances the need for medical care for all individuals while ensuring the sustainability of our healthcare institutions.