Dialysis for Immigrants Drives Hospital Into Debt

Houston Chronicle, August 17, 2009

A Las Vegas hospital providing emergency dialysis services to 80 illegal immigrants says that accounts for much of its operating deficit.

The University Medical Center says the treatment will cost it about $24 million this fiscal year, aggravating a budget deficit that is expected to approach $70 million.

UMC’s chief operating officer, Brian Brannman, said the hospital is required by federal law to treat anyone who shows up in an emergency but receives no reimbursement from federal, state or local governments for doing it.

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The cost of providing dialysis to illegal immigrants doubled last year, with twice as many seeking the treatment two or three times a week, officials said.

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UMC professionals say taxpayer-supported hospitals are strained to the breaking point and need to be part of the discussion on how to reform the nation’s health care system. If this problem isn’t solved, they say, others can expect to wait longer or pay more for their own emergency services.

“There’s no question that these illegals who come for dialysis treatment at emergency rooms back everything up,” said Dr. Dale Carrison, UMC’s head of emergency services. {snip}

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