It's Mexico's Turn to Pick Up the Bill

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," July 10, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: A Dallas hospital tired of footing the bill for illegal immigrants says it will ask Mexico and other countries to pay those health care costs. But the Mexican government is calling this an act of discrimination.

Here now is Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

So Mr. Price, this involves Parkland Hospital there in Dallas. How much money is involved?

JOHN WILEY PRICE, DALLAS COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Well, when you talk about $76 million of un-reimbursed care, you're talking about at least counties and other countries, about $46 million over and above what we call emergency care.

The undocumented question, though, comes out of the TP30 section 1011 Medicaid. And we have an eligibility requirement for our own residents. Parkland only gets funding through what we call ad valorem property taxes. And with that, $341 million of the $871 million comes from property taxes. And our constituents expect us to collect those dollars.

GIBSON: OK, so you send a bill onto Mexico. Let's just talk about Mexico in particular. I know there are other countries involved. And it said kindly remit, what, $76 million?

PRICE: Well, kindly remit those dollars, at least probably close to about $40 million. We take a matricula card. We take foreign driver's license. We take a passport.

And the TP30 Medicaid only pays for the first 48 hours of emergency care. Beyond that, the taxpayers of Dallas County are having to pick up the tab. And that’s what we're basically saying.

GIBSON: Yes, you want the money and I get it.

PRICE: We want the money.

GIBSON: By the way, I'm a taxpayer down there in a certain part of Texas, so I get it.

PRICE: Well, good.

GIBSON: But what happened? Mexico called this an act of discrimination and refused your bill. But under what basis did they call this an act of discrimination?

PRICE: Well, I think that they wanted it to appear to be an act of discrimination. We're just carrying out our fiduciary responsibility and these are individuals who have presented in the — beyond the emergency 48 hours under the definition of emergency care. And they say that through a matricula card, foreign driver's license or passport, that they're from Mexico.

Mexico owes the bill. Any other country — Canada owes the bill. We want our money. And that's what our taxpayers expect us to do.

GIBSON: Mr. Price, I think everybody in this country thinks it's good for you to make the effort to bill the country and try to get the money. Honestly, what is your expectation of collecting?

PRICE: Well, I mean, probably no more than the expectations of surrounding counties that owe us dollars or even constituents that owe us dollars.

But again, I think what this says is that the TP30 section 1011 Medicaid is inadequate to talk about reimbursing counties and/or states, which is only about $49 million.

They have $250 million appropriated for 2005 through 2008. That is not sufficient based on the kind of service we are having. And we must at least seek those funds so that the federal government will understand that they have to do more than tacitly hold out a few dollars and say look, states, here you are, $45 million for the state of Texas and our proximity to Mexico.

GIBSON: Are you at the point of refusing service?

PRICE: No, I think the TP30 Medicaid does not allow me to refuse service, especially for the first 48 hours. But, no, we're not at that position. All we're saying is we plan to collect our money.

GIBSON: Get your money. Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, thanks a lot. Appreciate you coming on.

Content and Programming Copyright 2006 FOX News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. (, which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, LLC'S and Voxant, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.