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Ways and Means Republicans Demand Answers from HHS after Reports of Migrants Overwhelming U.S. Hospitals

February 29, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08), joined by every Republican member of the Committee, called on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra today to detail the actions his agency has taken or will take to ensure the ongoing crisis at the U.S. southern border is not inhibiting U.S. patients’ access to care.

You can read the full text of the letter to Becerra here.

The letter follows reports that some health care systems in the United States, especially those in sanctuary cities like Denver Health in Colorado, have been forced to turn away patients and reduce the number of beds reserved for patients seeking substance use disorder and mental health treatment due to an influx of illegal migrants. In 2023 alone, Denver Health was forced to accommodate 20,000 unexpected visits from 8,000 such migrants.

“Recent media reports indicate that Denver Health, the primary safety net hospital in Denver, Colorado, is under grave financial strain and has even resorted to turning away vulnerable patients due to a massive influx of illegal immigrants into that community and the resulting increase in hospital visits and services provided to those individuals,” wrote Ways and Means Committee members in a letter to Secretary Becerra. “We hope you would agree that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a role to play in helping to address this growing crisis. Denver Health’s challenges may soon be mirrored by hospitals in sanctuary cities across the country, imperiling the nation’s health care safety net and threatening health care access for vulnerable patients.”

The letter comes as President Joe Biden makes a rare visit to the U.S. southern border, despite years of inaction on behalf of his administration to stem the flow of migrants. Since January 2021, more than 7.2 million illegal immigrant crossings have occurred at the United States southern border, which is more than the population of the entire state of Colorado.