Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, (Brooklyn 51AD) saw the passage of his patient rights bill by the Assembly earlier this week as an important step in securing the rights of immigrants in our state. Ortiz stated, “I am proud that the Assembly has taken the lead in protecting immigrants. My colleagues realized the importance of ensuring that medical treatment is made accessible to all people in need, even undocumented immigrants.”
Many immigrants who are in dire need of immediate hospitalization do not seek medical attention for fear of being reported to the INS. Bill A.5504A, ensures that immediate hospitalization is given to any person in need, regardless of legal status. It also informs patients of their rights in such circumstances.
The bill requires a sign to be posted in every hospital emergency room that states that “each patient shall have the right to emergency treatment regardless of age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, source of payment, or legal status.” It also states that “no patient shall be required to answer questions prior to provision of treatment, concerning their insurance or method of payment.” The bill also states that all general hospitals providing emergency service may not inquire as to the patient’s legal status prior to or after providing treatment.
Assemblyman Ortiz is hopeful that the Senate will follow the lead taken by the Assembly and rush the passage of this important bill. Ortiz stated, “Without our immigrants, there would be no United States. We need to protect the rights of our new immigrants and ensure that the principles that our country was founded on continue to be its foundation today.”