Mexico Won't Pay for Citizens' Care in Nevada

Nevada should not expect financial relief anytime soon from the government of Mexico to help pay for the health care costs of its citizens in the United States.

The program mentioned by Gov. Jim Gibbons on Monday after a meeting with Dr. Jose Angel Cordova Villalobos, secretary of Mexico's Ministry of Health, does not provide financial help to Mexican nationals seeking medical help in the United States.

The Health Windows program, currently operating in New York and
several other cities across the country, is a referral and education program offered to Mexican residents by Mexican consulates.

The purpose of the program is to help Mexican citizens, including those who are in the U.S. illegally, find less costly or free treatment at qualified health centers rather than go to hospital emergency rooms, said Steve George, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Resources.

Gibbons was in Mexico earlier this week conferring with various officials on a number of issues, from border security to economic cooperation.

During a teleconference call on Monday, Gibbons said he was intrigued by the Health Windows program because of the potential to lessen the burden of providing health care to non-citizen residents of Nevada with payments from the Mexican government directly to its citizens to cover the cost of health care.

Any program that would subsidize the cost of health care treatment for nonresidents is "a win for the people of Nevada," he said.

But various officials have said Health Windows in its current form provides for no such compensation.

Johannes Jacome Cid, alternate consul for the Mexican Consulate in Las Vegas, said a Health Windows program has been in place there
for some time and provides information about health issues and programs, and referrals to health care providers. The program offers no financial services or help.

"It's an information exchange program," Jacome Cid said.

Mexico is still struggling to provide health care and health insurance at home. Just over half of Mexico's population lacks coverage under the country's large, traditional, government-run health plans.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)