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Illegal Immigrants Aren't Just a Political Hot Button: They're Human Beings

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					Legal Daily News Feature


Illegal Immigrants Aren’t Just a Political Hot Button: They’re Human Beings
By Rebecca E. Neely


Red tape, contradictions and confusion are seemingly the government’s stock in trade at times, but this time, it may well have outdone
itself.




                             12/27/11                                  Angel could potentially get the transplant in Mexico – but,
                                                                       ironically, then he’d have to sneak back into the United States
                             According to the December                 via the desert, and if he was unsuccessful, that would mean
                             20th nytimes.com article, “For            another host of problems, not the least of which would be
                             Illegal Immigrant, Line Is Drawn          being cut off from his family.
at Transplant”, illegal immigrant, called only ‘Angel’ so as
to remain anonymous, needs a kidney transplant but the                 Almost everyone with end-stage renal disease in the United
government won’t pay for it because of his immigration status.         States, despite their income, is covered under federal
The government will, however, pay for a lifetime of dialysis.          Medicare for dialysis and transplantation, save for illegal
                                                                       immigrants. But no matter a patient’s immigration status,
Huh?                                                                   hospitals can be reimbursed for emergency care by Medicaid,
                                                                       the federal and state insurance program for the needy.
“Should I Stay or Should I Go?” – perhaps The Clash sums
up the media blitz and national debate that’s surrounded the           New York, California and North Carolina consider outpatient
issue of illegal immigrants in recent months best. However,            dialysis an emergency procedure; most other states do not.
amid said blitz, the fact that ‘Angel’ is a human being                Studies reveal that regular dialysis is less costly, and carries
somehow got lost in the shuffle.                                       with it fewer life-threatening complications versus waiting until
                                                                       toxin levels demand hospital treatment.
According to the article, Angel is a waiter in his early 30s, a
husband and father of two, and extremely well liked at the             Dr. Eric Manheimer, Bellevue’s medical director was quoted as
Manhattan restaurant where he has worked for ten years; so             saying: “As a physician, it puts you in a real ethical dilemma.
well liked, in fact, that customers and fellow employees alike         The ultimate irony is it’s cheaper to put in a transplant than to
have been donating money to help him.                                  dialyze someone for the rest of their life.”


Angel’s brother is a medical match, and could donate a kidney          But not everyone shares Manheimer’s beliefs.
to him, and for two years, they’ve been trying to find a way to
make it happen.                                                        Representative Dana T. Rohrabacher, Republican of California
                                                                       was quoted as saying: “They should not get any benefit
Though Angel’s boss attempted to get him private insurance,            from breaking the law, especially something as expensive as
he would not be eligible for coverage due to his ‘pre-existing’        organ transplants or dialysis. If they’re dead, I don’t have
condition or the dialysis that keeps him alive – for the first year.   an objection to their organs being used. If they’re alive, they
                                                                       shouldn’t be here no matter what.”
Doctors looked for a transplant center that would accept
Angel. Though hospitals in the city get millions of taxpayer           Rohrabacher is of the mind that healthcare related expenses
dollars to help in offsetting care for illegal immigrants and          for illegal immigrants are bankrupting American health care.
other uninsured patients, surgeons willing to waive their fees         He has worked to make it a requirement that emergency
were overruled by administrators. At another hospital, Angel           rooms turn in stable patients for deportation unless they can
was told he could get a transplant when he was a legal and             prove citizenship or legal residence.
had $200,000.



PAGE                                                       www.lawcrossing.com                                             continued on back
Legal Daily News Feature

My blood runs cold upon reading his words. It’s frightening to        Thank you, Ruth Faden. Thank you, Dr. Eric Manheimer. I pray
think that this man is in politics, and is in a position to affect    that you, and folks like you, continue to advocate on behalf
change, and that in general, this mindset has been allowed to         of these human beings so desperately in need of medical care
proliferate – which, yes, eerily smacks of Hitler. Yes, there has     and that you keep on fighting the likes of Rohrabacher, so if
to be laws, yes, there has to be order. But there also has to be      God forbid, I ever need a kidney transplant, someone won’t
compassion.                                                           have decided for me whether I’m eligible or not – based on
                                                                      the color of my hair, or my gender, or race, or some other
Ruth Faden, the director of the Johns Hopkins Berman                  quality that my government or a health insurance company
Institute of Bioethics, was quoted as saying: “We tie ourselves       has deemed unworthy.
up in knots. Because we’ve accepted as a country and in
international human rights law that if someone shows up in            “Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.” Mother Teresa
extremis in your emergency room, the nurses and doctors and
technicians are morally obligated, and legally obligated, to
provide that life-saving care.”




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