Revenue Cycle

Patient deportation case highlights issues with illegal alien healthcare

Patient Access Weekly Advisor, September 2, 2009

A medical ethicist says people who are angry at a South Florida hospital for repatriating a brain-damaged patient to his native Guatemala should instead push Congress to expand emergency healthcare coverage to illegal aliens.

Arthur Caplan, a professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics, says Martin Memorial Medical Center was unfairly criticized after the Stuart, FL hospital chartered an airplane and returned Luis Jimenez, 37, to his native Guatemala in 2003.

The hospital had been providing unreimbursed long-term care for the uninsured day laborer ever since he suffered severe head injuries in a 2000 automobile accident that left him partially paralyzed. The hospital placed the value of the uncompensated care at around $1.5 million.

"Those who are outraged over sending him home should try to push for illegal aliens to be covered. Good luck with that," Caplan says. "You can yell at the hospital all you want, but if he was in a public plan they probably would have kept him here because he would have had coverage. In a way, each one of us decided to send him home."

Source: HealthLeaders Media

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