Tags: arizona | border | town | nogales

Ariz. Town Seeks Fed Reimbursement for Ambulance Responses

Monday, 11 Nov 2013 12:58 PM

By Courtney Coren

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The federal government owes the city of Nogales, Ariz., more than $250,000 for ambulance calls to help illegal immigrants.

The city has received only $47,740 out of the $300,058 it billed the federal government for ambulance services during the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The year before that, the bill was $277,382, but the city collected only $29,919 from the government, The Washington Times reported.

"We would love to be reimbursed 100 percent," said Nogales' acting finance director, Aaron White. "If we were to be reimbursed 100 percent, we could provide a higher level of service to our residents in Nogales."

Nogales is a border city about 60 miles south of Tucson, and is adjacent to the Mexican state of Sonora. It boasts a vibrant shopping district that attracts residents from Sonora who can cross legally to shop. But there are also a high number of illegal crossings, which sometimes result in confrontations with U.S. Border Patrol agents.

When those confrontations result in injury, the city is expected to send its emergency medical personnel to deal with it.

It's unclear why Nogales has yet to be fully reimbursed, because the federal government began designating funds for reimbursing municipalities for illegal-immigrant care as part of the Medicare prescription drug program passed in 2003.

The government divided $250 million in reimbursement money per year from 2005 through 2008 among the states. Most of that, The Times said, has been depleted. But the newspaper noted that Arizona still had $13 million left from its immigrant-care funds at the beginning of 2013.

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