Medical Repatriation — uy. So.
Immigration is a tough debate in this country. Throw in undocumented workers and you’ve got the makings of a very loud dinner party to say the least. This story, which you can read more on here and here, is concerned with “medical repatriation” — the practice of hospitals sending undocumented workers back to their home countries, often without their permission.
“Hundreds of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally have [been medically repatriated] through a little-known removal system run not by the federal government trying to enforce laws but by hospitals seeking to curb high costs. A recent report compiled by immigrant advocacy groups made a rare attempt to determine how many people are sent home, concluding that at least 600 immigrants were removed over a five-year period, though there were likely many more.”
Hospitals are required to treat any person who comes to them — whether they can pay or not. However, once that patient is stabilized, there’s nothing compelling the hospital to keep treating while continuing to rack up costs not likely to be recovered.
In the case of medical repatriation, though, it’s that extra step: these hospitals aren’t just discharging; they’re sending patients, often without their approval, back to their country of origin.
Your feelings on this action will align with your stance on immigration and undocumented workers. And hospitals do need to be vigilant about high costs. Detailed in the ModernHealthcare story above, regarding two undocumented Mexicans with health insurance: “So Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines took matters into its own hands: After consulting with the patients’ families, it quietly loaded the two comatose men onto a private jet that flew them back to Mexico, effectively deporting them without consulting any court or federal agency.” And one wonders about the cost-saving measures there are in private jets.
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