June 15, 2005

Contact: Luke Frank, Senior Public Affairs Representative,505/272-3679

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE, NM University of New Mexico Hospital officials will seek federal reimbursement for emergency medical health care provided to undocumented immigrants under a new program administered through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Currently, New Mexico hospitals are required by law to offer emergency medical assistance to undocumented immigrants. The new program makes available more than $5 million for reimbursement to hospitals in the state that can verify emergency medical treatment dispensed to undocumented immigrants.

"We are eligible and will participate," says Steve McKernan, hospital CEO. "However, first we must develop internal measures to ensure program compliance without discouraging people with real medical emergency needs from seeking treatment."

Until that time, there will be no change in admitting procedures. Moreover, regardless of any new measures for patient admitting and/or billing, emergency patient care at UNMH will remain unchanged, McKernan asserts.

"While UNMH's first priority is providing quality emergency medical care for all of our patients, we also are fiscally accountable as a publicly funded institution," McKernan concludes. "This federal reimbursement program can help us to balance effective patient care with financial responsibility."

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