AUGUST 19, 2009
In one of many examples of the burden illegal immigrants represent to the nation’s healthcare system, a struggling county hospital in Nevada spends millions of dollars monthly to provide dozens of undocumented aliens with kidney dialysis, accounting for a chunk of its operating deficit.
The University Medical Center (UMC) in Las Vegas is approaching a $70 million budget deficit but the public hospital still gives 80 uninsured illegal immigrants free kidney dialysis each month and taxpayers in the cash-strapped county pick up the hefty tab, which will total $24 million this fiscal year.
In each of the last five years the facility provided dialysis to half as many illegal immigrants for about $1 million a month but evidently the word spread among the undocumented that UMC is the place to receive the costly treatment, no questions asked. In fact, several of the illegal immigrants who get their free, U.S. taxpayer-funded dialysis were gladly featured in a local newspaper story thanking Uncle Sam for the procedure which costs $11,000 to $18,000 per visit.
Many illegal aliens have racked up tabs of tens of thousands of dollars because they had to be hospitalized for weeks or months. Others have received regular kidney dialysis at UMC for years and say they are grateful because the procedure is seldom available in their Mexican or Central American hometowns.
These sort of chronic medical treatments for illegal immigrants cost U.S. taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually in addition to the billions for emergency medical care. In one year California, which has been forced to shut down several county hospitals, typically spends $51 million to provide more than 1,300 illegal immigrants with kidney dialysis. New York and a few other states also offer illegal immigrants expensive chronic medical care such as dialysis.
A Las Vegas newspaper editorial asks why sick illegal immigrants are allowed to remain in the country draining local government treasuries when the nation’s legal immigration process demands that incoming residents prove they are healthy and wont’ be a burden on taxpayer-funded services. It also dismisses as a myth that poor Americans are dying because they lack adequate access to healthcare when dozens of illegal immigrants can get dialysis treatments for years without paying for them.
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