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Nursing Homes Refusing Legal Immigrants, Paper Says

Sun., April 20, 1997, midnight

Nursing homes concerned about federal cuts that will leave thousands of immigrants without Medicaid coverage are denying admission even to legal immigrants who will not lose coverage, The New York Times reported today.

Fearful that they will be left footing the bill when the cuts take effect this fall, some administrators say it is easier to refuse all legal immigrants - including those with green cards - than to try to decide who will lose benefits and who will not, the newspaper reported.

At the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, all legal immigrants who need long-term care are being rejected.

“It’s heartbreaking, but we’re all too terrified to admit anybody who is not a citizen,” said Sheryl Geminder, director of admissions. “A green card was the ticket in six months ago, but now our attorneys are warning us not to take any chances.”

U.S. Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr., a Florida Republican who was the chief sponsor of the welfare bill, said he does not believe elderly care centers that receive Medicaid payments can turn away legal immigrants.

“There’s no question that it’s discrimination,” he said, adding that federal and state health officials need to clarify the the terms of the new law to nursing home operators.

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