Denver Health has reported $140 million in unpaid hospital bills with $10 million attributed to new immigrants that have located to the area. There has been a record number of illegal immigrants entering the country from the southern border every year since 2021 when President Biden took office and overturned Trump’s immigration policies on day one. The length of time to process medical insurance claims continues to increase and the number of denials has increased to 18% from only 10 or 12% from 2020 to 2023.

Illinois and California have recently expanded their state medicare programs to provide coverage to all residents, including illegal immigrants. In initial cost projections for the program in Illinois a few years ago expected a $2 to $4 million increase. That number has now increased to $1.1 billion according to state health officials. Callifornia’s Medi-Cal expansion is expected to cost over $4.8 billion.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people were told to socially distance, wear masks, and eventually get vaccinated to prevent overwhelming the hospitals. The number of emergency visits during 2020 decreased. Meanwhile, the immigration crisis is causing more strain on the hospital system both in sheer numbers and the inability of patients to pay their bills.

Denver hospital had $60 million in unpaid hospital bills in 2020. That number doubled to $120 million by 2022 and increased to $136 million in 2023. 25% of the total cost is coming from non-Denver residents.

In January, Denver Health CEO Donna Lynne said they are at a critical point and the influx of immigrants into the city is “going to break Denver Health.” This is a hospital system that accepts all patients regardless of their ability to pay. It is an important service they provide, but only so many resources are available.

In 2023, there were 8,000 immigrants from Central America that visited Denver Health a total of 20,000 times. That equates to over 54 extra visits to the hospital per day and 384 per week. As a result of the overwhelm the hospital system is experiencing, they have been turning down patients every day that need assistance with mental health and substance abuse. Colorado’s state Congress approved $5 million of additional funding to go toward Denver Health and are referring to the current state of the hospital system as in a “death spiral.”

Last summer, Florida Governor Ron Desantis signed a bill requiring hospitals that receive medicare funds to ask patients about their immigration status. This law has caused immigrants to avoid medical care out of fear of deportation. Advocacy groups have since encouraged immigrants to seek medical care but decline to answer the question about immigration status.

New York City has seen one of the largest influxes of illegal immigrants into their city. A report from October stated that the five boroughs received a collective 30,000 hospital visits from undocumented immigrants in the last year.

Maryland has been considering a program that would provide full health coverage to undocumented immigrants and projected the cost of the program would be $1 billion over a 5 year period, or about $200 million per year. A program that would only provide prescription drugs would cost $78 million over 5 years.

A Newsweek report from February stated the cost of illegal immigration on U.S. taxpayers is $150 billion per year. The influx of migrants crossing the southern border has reached record highs with each passing year since President Joe Biden took office. In his first month in office, Biden overturned the “remain in Mexico” policy that President Trump signed into law.

Michael Yon discussed the border crisis on The HighWire with Del Bigtree in early February. Yon has been on the ground in the Darien Gap covering the journey that migrants have been making to get across the southern U.S. border. In that interview, he talked about the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, as facilitating the flow of illegal immigrants from central America and China up through the Darien Gap and across the southern border.

In the previous two fiscal years, there have been 2 million apprehensions of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border. The immigration crisis continues to make new records. This is causing a strain on resources including available hospital beds and necessary funding for hospitals like Denver Heatlh.

Photo credit: Illustration by The Epoch Times, Getty Images, Jeffrey Beall/CC, Shutterstock

Steven Middendorp

Steven Middendorp is an investigative journalist, musician, and teacher. He has been a freelance writer and journalist for over 20 years. More recently, he has focused on issues dealing with corruption and negligence in the judicial system. He is a homesteading hobby farmer who encourages people to grow their own food, eat locally, and care for the land that provides sustenance to the community.

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