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Tucson, Arizona
Saturday, 22 December 2001

Hull OKs treatment for needy entrants

By Howard Fischer

PHOENIX - Needy legal and illegal immigrants won't lose their dialysis and chemotherapy treatments, at least for the time being.

Gov. Jane Hull agreed Friday to let legislation become law that moves $2.8 million from anti-smoking campaigns to pay for the services.

But Hull would not sign the bill, a move that press aide Francie Noyes said demonstrates her displeasure with the bill because it funds the services only through the end of the fiscal year on June 30 and takes on what should be a federal responsibility.

"The legislative arena is becoming littered with quick fixes, bridges and Band-Aids," said Hull. "We are creating our own crises and running out of Band-Aids, as well as causing unnecessary anxiety for a lot of very ill people."

The 159 affected people were receiving services under state and federal programs that provide emergency care for all who meet financial criteria, regardless of their immigration status. But a new interpretation of the federal statutes concluded that routine dialysis and chemotherapy were not emergencies, leaving those getting the care without funding.

Several lawmakers objected to providing money for services for those who are not in this country legally. But proponents pointed out the state is obligated to provide emergency care for all. They said eliminating routine dialysis means these patients will wait until they are in a life-threatening situation and then go to a hospital emergency room, where the treatment will be far more expensive.