When Immigration and Healthcare Don’t Meet

This article ran earlier this week in the Chicago Tribune.  It tells the story of Jesus Arroyo, an undocumented immigrant without health insurance, who was struck by a car almost two years ago and has been struggling to recover without the help of doctors and nurses.  He is recovering slowly, with the help of his family and a mechanic-turned-health care activist who massages his paralyzed muscles once a week.

With the new immigration legislation, Arroyo and 11 million others could soon be fast-tracked onto a path towards citizenship.  Bumps in the rode come up when this track crosses with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect in 2014.  Providing Medicare and Medicaid for these 11 million immigrants has been banned for the next 10 years by a Senate bill, and leaves those in this country without papers relying on home remedies and hospital charity care, which are already overtaxed.

Lisa Palumbo, a Supervisory Attorney in LAF’s Immigrants and Workers’ Rights Practice Group,  told the Tribune of another possible consequence of this:  Hospital Repatriations,  illegal practice of hospitals that send undocumented, uninsured patients back to their home country, effectively deporting these individuals in violation of federal immigration law.  “When people can’t pay the bill and can’t take them into their own home, family members usually feel like: ‘I don’t have any other choice. I’m going to be obligated to do this,'” she said, even though the law clearly says that a patient’s treatment plan requires consent from the patient and his or her family, and they have the final say.  While such procedure is the norm, this article explains why that doesn’t always happen with immigrant patients who are uninsured.

Read the whole article on the Tribune’s website.

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