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February 12, 2013 2:04 PM

$2 billion Medicaid program helps mostly illegal immigrants

While federal law generally bars illegal immigrants from being covered by Medicaid, a little-known part of the state-federal health insurance program for the poor pays about $2 billion a year for emergency treatment for a group of patients who, according to hospitals, mostly comprise illegal immigrants. The funding – which has been around since the late 1980s – underscores the political and practical challenges of refusing to cover an entire class of people.

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