Biden administration owes Texas hospital caring for migrant minors more than $200,000

Rep. August Pfluger says HHS needs to pay up

A Texas hospital that has been treating migrant children for a range of concerns after their trek across the Southern border has not gotten any reimbursement from the Biden administration for their more than $200,000 in health care costs, the hospital told Fox News Thursday. 

Midland Memorial Hospital has been providing health care for the migrants after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opened an intake facility for unaccompanied minors in March in Midland, Texas. But so far, the hospital hasn't received any payment from the federal government in return, according to Tasa Richardson, the public relations manager for the hospital.

"I can confirm that Midland Memorial Hospital has provided healthcare services to 40 individuals from the migrant facility," Richardson told Fox News. "This care has totaled hospital charges of $206,287. Claims have been submitted via Point Comfort per federal official direction. To date, no claims have been processed."

In this March 30, 2021 file photo, young migrants wait to be tested for COVID-19 at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley, in Donna, Texas. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, Pool, File)

In this March 30, 2021 file photo, young migrants wait to be tested for COVID-19 at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley, in Donna, Texas. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, Pool, File)

Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, is now calling on HHS to pay up, especially after the congressman said he previously received verbal assurances from Biden administration officials that HHS has the money to reimburse local health care providers for any costs they incur for treating migrant children. 

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"What a shameful way to do business here," Pfluger told Fox News Thursday of how the adminstration has treated the Midland community.

"It's an outrage that our local hospitals are literally paying the price for Biden's border crisis," Pfluger added.

HHS did not address the specifics about payment of $206,287 to Midland Memorial Hospital but said in a more generalized statement to Fox News that the department funds healthcare for unaccompanied minors in its custody and their expenses "will be paid by HHS."

"HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) facilitates and funds health care for all unaccompanied children (UC) in its custody," the statement to Fox News late Thursday said. "ORR has developed its health care policies with the goals of ensuring the children’s physical and mental well-being and the safety of care providers, medical personnel and communities.

"Health care eligibility is effective on the first day that a child has been placed in the physical custody of ORR," the statement continued. "Eligibility for ORR coverage ends on the day the child leaves ORR’s custody. All UC medical expenses incurred while in ORR care will be paid by HHS."

Most of the 40 minor children showed up at the Midland Memorial Hospital emergency room and needed treatment for a range of issues, including coronavirus. Data Pfluger reviewed from the hospital revealed that two cases involved pregnancies, four were for suicide attempts and one was a sexual assault exam, the congressman said. 

August Pfluger is the newly elected congressman from Texas's 11th congressional district. (Marisa Schultz/Fox News) 

August Pfluger is the newly elected congressman from Texas's 11th congressional district. (Marisa Schultz/Fox News) 

Pfluger has already raised alarms about children at the Midland facility being trafficked. He and local Texas officials have also accused the Biden administration of blindsiding the Midland community before opening up the emergency shelter without consultation and under "the cover of darkness."

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The Midland facility is designed to be a temporary shelter for children who just crossed the border and are awaiting placement into a foster home or with a family member as their immigration case is adjudicated. But safety and sanitation concerns have dogged the facility and other emergency sites since their opening earlier this year in response to a surge of migrant children crossing the border.

Despite the rocky and unexpected opening, Pfluger said his office has been inundated with offers from the local community to donate supplies, new clothes and shoes to the children, as well as pastors offering to provide religious services. But Pfluger said HHS won't let any of the charitable donations come through. 

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"The answer is no," Pfluger said. "And yet now they have the nerve to send (the children) to the hospital and not repay our physicians and our hospital. It's unbelievable." 

Pfluger has authored legislation to require HHS to coordinate with state and local officials before opening migrant facilities in the future and to give local authorities final decision-making power on site selection.