How do you feel about paying for dying illegal aliens when many American citizens have NO medical care at all?
ABOUT $2 MILLION A MONTH: More illegal immigrants getting emergency treatment at UMC
'The cost to our taxpayers is astronomical,' commissioner says
By PAUL HARASIM
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Jose Diaz Ruiz, a 76-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico, wipes away tears Thursday as he receives dialysis treatment at University Medical Center. More illegal immigrants are currently using the dialysis care than in August, when the Review-Journal first spotlighted the issue.
There are now four more of them regularly making their way to the emergency room at University Medical Center. And doctors say the illegal immigrants coming in for dialysis treatment at University Medical Center are sicker than they were before, making their care even more expensive.
Six months after the Review-Journal revealed that 80 illegal immigrants with failing kidneys were running up about $2 million a month in bills for dialysis and other medical treatment at the only publicly supported hospital in Las Vegas, the situation for both patients and taxpayers only continues to worsen.
And despite promises by elected officials to look into the issue, there are few signs it will get better.
Federal laws that require hospitals to give emergency treatment to patients regardless of citizenship, combined with a lack of enforcement of immigration laws, make the problem insoluble right now, hospital and elected officials say.
Unable to receive the dialysis treatments that all American citizens qualify for under Medicare, illegal immigrants who need such treatment across the nation have increasingly turned to emergency rooms.
UMC officials, who project a budget deficit of more than $70 million for fiscal year 2010, say that encouraging illegal immigrants to return to their home countries for dialysis treatment hasn't worked.
In August, Jon Summers, a spokesman for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the senator promised to find more funding to aid hospitals that help the indigent.
None has been forthcoming to UMC and Summers said recently that Reid now believes only health care reform and immigration reform can address UMC's dilemma.
And talk between local elected, hospital and foreign officials about addressing the issue hasn't materialized.
With nothing being done to correct its situation with dialysis patients, UMC officials say taxpayers can expect to pay more to wait longer for their own emergency services. Nearly every day, about eight illegal immigrants show up at the UMC emergency room hoping to receive dialysis care, hospital officials say.
"The cost to our taxpayers is astronomical," said Lawrence Weekly, the Clark County commissioner who also serves as chairman of the UMC board of hospital trustees. "Many people are justifiably outraged. If this kind of thing goes on, we might have to close our doors. But we're governed by federal law on this issue so some way the federal government has to help us out. We just can't stand by and let people die in the streets. We wouldn't want that on our conscience."
An hour after Weekly made his observations, 76-year-old Jose Diaz Ruiz, who freely admits he is in the country illegally, sat inside UMC Thursday afternoon tethered to a dialysis machine. He sat in one of four dialysis chairs designed for hospital patients who suddenly become ill, and not for those in need of chronic care.
A weary Diaz Ruiz, who could barely keep his eyes open, wept as he talked through an interpreter about how his kidneys began to fail about a year ago. The longtime agricultural worker in Idaho said he was on his way back to Mexico when his deteriorating health wouldn't permit him to continue traveling.
The vast majority of illegal immigrants receiving dialysis treatment through UMC's emergency room are from Mexico, hospital officials say.
Though he had no insurance or money to pay for treatment for his medical problems through a doctor, he heard from friends that UMC's emergency room treated people regardless of financial circumstance.
Often, he said, his condition worsens to the point where doctors must put him in the hospital for two or three days. He said he is grateful to the doctors and nurses at UMC for treating him so he can still spend time with his wife, two grown sons, and grandchildren.
What would he do otherwise?
"Die," he said.
Under the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act, which was enacted in 1986, any patient, regardless of citizenship, who shows up at an emergency department requesting an examination or treatment for a medical condition must be given an appropriate medical screening to determine whether there is an emergency. If there is, treatment must be provided.
When the Review-Journal contacted Nevada's congressional delegation for this story, all said they recognized UMC's problem and that they must play the lead role in solving it. U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., put it this way: "The system is being abused by people using the emergency room for ongoing care, including di
- Best Answer
I do not care what becomes of them, we should not have to foot the bill for people who do not belong here and who have disrespected our laws. Since he was on his way back, we should give him a ride but that is all. I have insurance but cannot afford co-pays, so why should they get free medical.
- AmyLv 44 years ago
Before the first dollar is spent on Illegals we must take care of Americans and those here legally. Giving any benefits to those who are criminals by entering illegally is wrong. They are not cheap labor, they cost us more in health care, school programs, signage, special needs programs. Where I work they had Americans working at $12.00 an hour with benefits, all those Americans were laid off. My company employees almost all illegals that received amnesty a few yeas ago at $7.00 an hour without benefits. There is a visiting counselor who comes to help them receive all sorts of free benefits given to them by this county. Most of these people drive very nice cars and have stylish clothes, most of them have family member that work for cash only jobs that pay no taxes. Anything purchase or money spent in this county by them is off set by the tremendous amount of money they receive in social and government programs paid for by the Americans that have had their jobs taken from them. If it had not been for all those illegals coming here many thousand of job would still be open to Americans at a living wage with benefits.
- M.Y.O.B.Lv 510 years ago
Most hispanics only come to the ER for TRUE emergency. Blacks and white trash use the ER for colds, sore throat, and drug seekers wanting drugs to sell on the street.
Left out a few key details. At admission they take down all your personal information, Americans provide SS# valid personal information that can be used to track down them when it comes time to pay that bill. The hospital billing office still sends out a bill for services rendered, plus the Dr charges, X-rays, CT'S, MRI'S, are all separate bills. 15 years than you should know very well after walking out of the hospital,that's not it. They still want their money and they do send out bills for payment and will turn the matter over to debt collectors. The illegals provide false or untrue information, use fake addresses, fake ss#'s all that affect your er so that they are untraceable. Illegals think Dr's should work for free, nurses work for free, all the medical supplies are free. What I didn't see here is, the illegals saying I have a major bill but each month I do send what I can, none of that here. They just expect us to pay for medical services and do not even offer to pay anything, even if is $ 25.00 a month, nothing. Americans they will come after us, it effects our credit history. There more to the story than just showing up and walking out the door.When a hospital sends out bills to fake addresses that means a dr will not get paid for their services or for the whole, the entire hospital takes a loss, which also means, this effects, raises, lay offs..No the Illegals can walk out the door knowing there will never be an attempt on their part to pay anything because nobody can track them down..Americans do not get such a break. Let an American lie to a hospital about their name or SS# and see how fast it becomes a legal matter.
- Anonymous10 years ago
Your words " American citizens have NO medical care at all?"
This is total bull crap ! Although I agree with your frustration regarding the treatment of illegals, this statement is not true, as by law, no emergency room in any hospital can refuse treatment because of the persons lack of insurance and or ability to pay.
Plus, in almost all cities, there are free clinics to take care of those without finances, and also medicaid.
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- Anonymous10 years ago
It is rotten. And in fact, there are cases of those people rushing their family members to this side of the border specifically to get the free care. And that care can actually run up to millions.
- StoneColdLv 610 years ago
bojo8127 - You posted "Although I agree with your frustration regarding the treatment of illegals, this statement is not true, as by law, no emergency room in any hospital can refuse treatment because of the persons lack of insurance and or ability to pay."
If that were true then why is this going on?
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Seems to me doctors have discarded their medical oath.
- Anonymous10 years ago
That's why we should have Universal Health care what are you talking about illegals get no service tooSource(s): Mom works in a Hospital
- 10 years ago
Yeah I supposed you gave your share to the needy people in Haiti too.Source(s): self
Rant. Stop eating so many potatoes.