Mexico won’t pay for citizens’ care in Nevada

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

The program referred to by Gov. Jim Gibbons on Monday after a meeting with Dr. Jóse Angel Córdova Villalobos, secretary of the Ministry of Health for the government of Mexico, does not provide financial help to Mexican nationals who are seeking medical assistance in the United States.

The program, called Health Windows, which is 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, seek out less costly treatments at federally qualified health centers and by obtaining “pro bono” services rather than visiting hospital emergency rooms, said Steve George, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Resources.

Gibbons spent four days 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 with members of the media, 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. It 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.

Review-Journal writer Lynnette Curtis contributed to this report.

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