Illegal Immigrants Receive Offers To Return Home For Their Health Care

Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital's offer to send illegal immigrants who can't afford treatment back to their home countries is raising questions about how to handle health care for that population. Some say the practice is necessary financially while others worry about the patients. CNN reports that Grady "is the latest known case of a medical institution that's offering to send illegal immigrants who can't afford treatment back to their native countries -- a practice that critics liken to patient dumping. ... Hospitals have offered medical transfers to foreign countries, but there are no nationwide data tracking the practice. It's unclear how many undocumented patients have returned and whether the repatriations are voluntary."

CNN points to several key cases involving illegal immigrants and notes: "Some question who should be responsible for the medical care of illegal immigrants. ... A judge ruled last week that Grady could close this week, rejecting a legal request by 36 patients who sought to keep the clinic open until they could find permanent treatment elsewhere. ... By federal law, hospitals must treat emergency patients regardless of citizenship or ability to pay. But emergency care is more expensive than regular care. Dialysis is a lifelong treatment and the only alternative is a transplant" (Park, 9/30).

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