Houston Chronicle: Still no solution for illegal immigrants’ long-term care costs

"With an infant son, a common-law wife who's a U.S. citizen and a job at a Galveston bait shop, Francisco Martinez was working toward the American dream.

Then Martinez fell off the shop's roof and landed unceremoniously at the intersection of one of America's most vexing ethical, political and financial conundrums: the care of severely sick or injured illegal immigrants.

'It's a tragic, intractable problem,' said Antonio Zavaleta, a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Brownsville who specializes in health care and immigrant populations. 'There's no clear solution.'

Provide the long-term care and those institutions will rack up expenses that either bankrupt them or get passed on to U.S. citizens through higher charges. Don't provide the care and many of those patients won't survive, an ethical blight for a nation that prides itself on being humanitarian.

The UT Medical Branch at Galveston's solution, after saving Martinez's life, was to try to persuade the Mexican national, now paralyzed from the chest down, to return to his homeland for the special, long-term care he needs. Martinez's response, despite UTMB's offer to pay for the trip, was to tell hospital officials, 'if you don't want me here, just throw me outside.'" Read more ….

 

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