SB1405 Requiring Hospitals to Report Undocumented Patients is Placed on Hold
Arizona State Senator Kyrsten Sinema speaks about the reasons SB1405 was put on hold
On Valentine's Day, a large number of health professionals turned out both inside and outside the Arizona State Senate building. They arrived to speak out against the proposed new law to require hospitals to report undocumented patients.
Local health professionals gathered to speak out against SB1405
The day started out with a press conference in Senate Hearing Room One at 12:30pm led by Jason Odhner, a registered nurse who is active with the Phoenix Urban Health Collective. A variety of people spoke to the media, including State Senator Steve Gallardo, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, EMT's doctors, and midwives. They all expressed a consensus that they would refuse to comply with any laws that would interfere with their first responsibilities to care for their patients, no matter who they are.
Jason Odhner stated, "The American Nurse's Association has an official position statement saying that undocumented immigrants have a right to health care, and the American Nurses Association officially rejects any bill that will be a barrier to access for any undocumented immigrants. People in our communities are our neighbors. We are nurses. We are doctors. We are EMT's. Our job is to care for you. The Border Patrol is always hiring. If we wanted to be Border Patrol agents, we could have hired on there. We chose not to because we want to provide care for sick people. That's the appropriate role of a medical professional. That's the duty of a medical professional. It's not a duty we are willing to ignore."
Other concerns were brought up by Senator Gallardo that this would be yet another unfunded mandate by the state to interfere in health care and that this would be adding more government to health care even though some politicians claim to want to get government out of health care. Mary Rose Wilcox expressed concern that the many homeless residents of Maricopa County could face an increased barrier to seeking health care because many of them, including citizens, may not have their papers on them proving that they are citizens.
The Judiciary Committee hearing began late, after 3:00pm and had around thirty items on the agenda. Around 6:00pm, after the committee heard a number of unrelated bills, State Senator Gould announced that the sponsor of SB1405 had decided to pull the bill and place it on hold. Of course, the result was a large groan from the sizable audience who had gathered in anticipation of hearing the debate and signing up in opposition to speak.
The committee went to recess and everyone went outside to speak to the media about what happened. State Senator Sinema followed the group outside and explained that the Arizona Hospital and Health Care Association had possibly had an impact and had done heavy lobbying in opposition to the bill.
She explained that it wasn't over yet and that it could possibly come back before the Appropriations Committee later because they have more time to hear bills. It is to early to know the final result but Senator Sinema said "There are a number of fiscally conservative Republicans who have grown weary of this type of legislation that doesn't do anything to support jobs, schools, or really put the state back on the right track. So I'm not sure this bill would make it on the Senate floor. It may come back, but I think it is unlikely it would make it to the Governor."
Video of press conference about SB1405