OCTOBER 29, 2008
Federal law forces states to give illegal immigrants emergency medical care, but a few go beyond the mandate by also offering free chronic treatment at a cost of tens of millions of dollars to U.S. taxpayers.
Among them is California, which spent $51 million last year to provide more than 1,300 illegal immigrants with free kidney dialysis. Officials estimate that over time a single patient on dialysis will easily cost taxpayers more than $1 million.
Case in point; an illegal immigrant from Mexico who has received free kidney dialysis—around 2,000 sessions—for nearly two decades at a southern California facility. Officials estimate that the treatment has already cost taxpayers more than half a million dollars, not including a costly kidney transplant in 1993.
When the illegal immigrant’s transplanted kidney failed she lived in a state that didn’t offer free dialysis for illegal aliens so she moved to California for the costly, thrice-a-week treatment. Seventeen years and thousands of treatments later, she has vowed never to leave generous Golden State.
New York and a few other states also offer chronic medical care such as dialysis for illegal immigrants. Officials say it’s more cost effective because patients without regular dialysis often end up in emergency rooms in critical condition. In those cases, federal law would require dialysis until the patient is stable.
Incredibly, one border state that tried to cut off dialysis for a group of illegal immigrants got sued and was forced to restore the treatment. In 2002 the illegal aliens sued Arizona and the state eventually agreed to provide free routine dialysis for those living in the country illegally.
Illegal immigrant healthcare costs U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars annually. Most appalling is that Mexico’s government operates programs in about a dozen American cities that refers its nationals—living in the U.S. illegally—to publicly funded health centers where they can get free medical care without being turned over to immigration authorities.
While this may sound too outrageous to be true, it’s very real. The program is called Ventanillas de Salud (Health Windows) in Spanish and its mission is to help illegal immigrants find U.S. hospitals, clinics and other government programs where they can get free services without being deported for violating federal immigration laws.
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