|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 25, 2007
Bellevue Medical Center
Remarks by HHC President Alan D. Aviles at Press Conference with Governor Spitzer to Address Emergency Medicaid Coverage for Undocumented Immigrants Who Need Chemotherapy
Good afternoon. I’m Al Aviles, President of the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation.
We are standing in the ambulatory care pavilion of Bellevue Hospital Center, the longest continually operated public hospital in the nation. Bellevue’s service to New Yorkers, and especially to low-income, recent immigrant communities of our diverse City dates back more than 250 years.
Bellevue and our entire public hospital system share a common mission, to provide high quality healthcare to all New Yorkers without regard to their ability to pay or their immigration status. Last year, our system served 1.3 million New Yorkers, including about 400,000 without health insurance. Many of those uninsured individuals were undocumented immigrants.
As the single largest provider of healthcare to immigrant New Yorkers, we are deeply concerned about the federal government’s recent rejection of emergency Medicaid payments for undocumented immigrants who need outpatient chemotherapy.
Our activist agenda across our entire system includes an aggressive effort to do more cancer screening to detect cancer earlier when treatment is most effective and prognosis is more hopeful. This last year we performed 80,000 mammograms, 23,000 colonoscopies and 160,000 cervical cancer tests.
It would be unconscionable for us to encourage more and more cancer screenings and not be able to ensure that those who face a positive diagnosis will have immediate and full access to the chemotherapy treatment that a patient’s doctor believes to be essential to effectively treat that cancer.
We care about our patient’s health, not their immigration status. We care about being able to administer potentially life-saving treatment, not the semantics that attempt to pre-empt the judgment of physicians on what constitutes emergent care.
We know that Governor Spitzer and Commissioner Daines share our commitment to ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to affordable healthcare. We are honored to have them both with us today as our special guests. And I am honored to introduce to you the Governor of the State of New York, Eliot Spitzer.