Visiting Nurse Association collides with House bill
August 22, 2006
An immigration bill passed by the Colorado House of Representatives is causing headaches for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.
Colorado House Bill 1023 requires applicants for government benefits and services to prove they are lawful residents of the United States. The three-step process requires providing photo identification, signing an affidavit and having it verified.
“We never required identification from anyone,” said Carrie Godes, public information coordinator for the VNA. “It adds more time and energy directed at every person treated.”
Officials from the VNA gave the Moffat County commissioners an update on the facility Tuesday and informed them about this issue.
Godes said programs most affected by the House bill are the Colorado Women’s Cancer Control Initiative, the Nurturing Parenting Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, all of which use Colorado funds to fund their programs.
Female patients without documentation previously would have been screened and treated under the Colorado Woman’s Cancer Initiative.
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Now, Godes said, women will have to be treated using private funding with no restrictions attached to the money.
Godes is worried that some women will avoid seeking treatment because of the new restrictions, and a small problem could grow to a larger, more expensive health issue if left untreated.
The bill also affects the Nurturing Parent Program, which teaches new and expecting parents about raising children, because it receives funding from the Colorado Children’s Trust Fund.
Godes said the staff at the VNA is now spending time making sure which patients can be covered by each program without violating the House bill.
“It’s a tricky situation because we have funding from different sources for the same programs,” she said.
Part of the problem is that the bill went into effect so quickly, without any time for health care workers in Colorado to sort through the funding issues.
Godes still encourages Moffat County residents to visit the VNA at the first sign of a health problem.
“As a medical facility, we do not report people,” she said.