Van Nuys, CA 91405
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher
2338 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
May 10, 2004
Dear Congressman Rhorabacher
I was triggered to write this letter when I read in the Arizona Republic the article attached which stated that federal law...prohibits hospitals from asking patients about their immigration status.
I am retired at age 68 on a fixed income. My medical expenses are covered by the Veteran's Administration and our three county adopted daughters ages 4, 5, and 9, have 100 percent dental and medical expenses covered by Medi-Cal. But my wife of eleven years, an immigrant from Mexico (now a proud U.S. citizen) does not have any medical coverage.
In 2001, my wife had to have surgery. Not being covered by any health plan, she went to one of the county clinics and was transferred to Olive View County Hospital for the operation. But before being admitted, we were interviewed by a case worker to determine my wife's eligibility to receive free or discounted medical aid.
I have attached a copy of a fax sent to me on approximately April 4, 2001 from Olive View case worker Susan Veklotz (the date stamp on the fax, Dec. 13, 2001, is in error), asking for the following information: form MC13 Statement of Citizenship (copy attached), bank statements for two accounts for February and March of 2001, and my wife's alien card and social security card.
The above said information was supplementary to information which my wife had already provided which consisted of copies of the trust deed to our house, the title to our car, the adoption papers for our three adopted children, a copy of my wife's naturalization document, and the social security numbers for myself and each of our three children.
I leaned over to Veklotz and asked her in a quiet voice if she asked the same questions of all those other people (I pointed to a large number of non-English speaking people). The case worker turned to me and said candidly that county case workers don't ask them those questions because they are undocumented and they can't produce the needed documents -- saying further that she didn't even know if they were giving their right names. Moreover, she said that county workers are not allowed to ask patients about their citizenship or immigration status. But when I asked Veklotz why my wife was asked about her immigration and citizen status, she couldn't answer. My wife commented to me later that to avoid all the red-tape and the $600 expense, she should have gone in for care disguised as an unmarried illegal alien.
Section D, of form MC13 asks if the applicant has a Social Security number. And says further that Aliens who are not in "satisfactory immigration status," and who do not have a SSN, can still get restricted Medi-Cal if they meet all eligibility requirements. Of course since the county cannot by law discriminate against patients based on ethnic or social profiling, it must be a "given" that "all" patients, regardless of ethnic or social status, must provide citizenship and immigration status information when being admitted to the hospital. Surely, the Department of Health Services in Los Angeles County (presumably in all California counties) must maintain a database of records containing MC13 information which it must provide to the Federal Government and the State of California, the principal funding providers of Medi-Cal -- thus I believe there is a conflict between the so called federal law which prohibits asking patients' immigration and/or citizenship status and the information required by form MC13. It seems that not only can hospital case workers ask for immigration and citizenship status, it is a requirement!
I'm not in your congressional district, but I believe that this is vital information concerning your bill that would require hospitals to report undocumented immigrants.
I am prepared to testify should you need me to.
I look forward to your comments.