Treating migrants who crossed the border has cost Yuma hospital nearly $26 million in uncompensated care
YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A hospital in Yuma has spent over $26 million in less than a year treating migrants who crossed the border and needed care. Now, there are concerns due to the growing community and a possible influx of migrants with the expiration of Title 42 last Thursday. Title 42 previously allowed the U.S. to turn away migrants on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID.
The Biden administration announced on Monday the number of migrants crossing the southern border has dropped 50% since Title 42 ended. However, the hospital says their numbers are still one to two migrants seeking care on a daily basis. While it may not sound like a lot, they say it’s already at a point where they can’t handle it anymore. “Since the lifting of Title 42, we haven’t seen the surge come through our doors yet,” said Dr. Robert Trenschel, President and CEO of Yuma Regional Medical Center.
Dr. Trenschel says even if there had been a surge, they wouldn’t be ready for it because they’re still dealing with the previous increase in migrants seeking hospital care. “The winter months are particularly strained because that’s when our winter visitors are here as well, and you combine that with the migrant surge, and it was not a sustainable model to have a payer’s source,” he explained.
The hospital estimates it has treated several migrants from December 2021 up to last November but couldn’t bill them, resulting in nearly $26 million in medical uncompensated care. “We had the increased cost of agency staff to deal with the increased volume, and there is no payer source to help offset that cost,” he said.
Dr. Trenschel says the hospital recently qualified to get reimbursement for a portion of the care it provided. “It’ll cover some emergency care and pregnancies. That’s not the bulk of what comes through our door. But to get some relief is helpful,” he said.
He says people who already live in Yuma are now feeling the effects, but says they are ready to care for anyone who needs emergency care. “Sometimes people do have a longer wait if we have a large group of patients coming into the emergency room or in labor and delivery,” said Dr. Trenschel.
Over the past week, several Yuma city leaders have written letters to President Biden, requesting the federal government step in, Dr. Trenschel included. “We’re OK financially today, and we’ll be OK financially tomorrow. Our concern is that this is not a sustainable model,” he said.
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