Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tragedy From Compassion

When you have a welfare state expanding seemingly on auto-pilot, unlimited open borders, and a philosophy that sees health care as a right, you end up with tragic stories like this: Judge Rules That Grady Memorial Hospital Can Close Its Dialysis Unit
Uninsured dialysis patients who could be cut off from their life-sustaining care lost a court challenge on Friday when a judge ruled that Grady Memorial Hospital could close its outpatient dialysis clinic. But the hospital gave the patients a temporary reprieve

Ruling largely on technical grounds, a state court judge dissolved the restraining order that prevented last weekend’s scheduled closing of the clinic at Grady, the Atlanta region’s safety net hospital. The hospital, which is deeply in debt, quickly announced it would close the clinic within a week. It agreed, however, to pay for up to three months of dialysis at private clinics for the 51 patients who will be dislocated.

Grady will continue to assist the indigent patients, many of them illegal immigrants, in seeking care in their home countries or in other states where they may qualify for emergency Medicaid coverage.

Wait a minute, their home countries? You got it, sucker

Federal law generally prohibits coverage of illegal immigrants by Medicaid and Medicare (which pays for dialysis for citizens regardless of age). Some states — but not Georgia — allow those immigrants to use Medicaid dollars in emergency situations, potentially including dialysis. Legal immigrants must wait five years before qualifying for benefits.

In the Atlanta region, that has made Grady, which accepts all patients regardless of immigration status or ability to pay, the provider of last resort for many illegal and uninsured patients. The taxpayer-supported hospital estimates the dialysis clinic will lose $2 million this year. Mr. Gove said he could not project how much the three-month extension might cost.

The Times doesn't care to tell us which countries (I can guess), but a little noodling around the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" website reveals this: Grady Offers Reprieve To Patients of Dialysis Unit

Gove, the hospital spokesman, said hospital officials expect as many as 20 of the patients who are undocumented immigrants will relocate to another state. He said Grady has found about 11 states in the country that provide Medicaid assistance for undocumented immigrants for outpatient dialysis treatment. Georgia does not. The states include New York, North Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Washington, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin.

I'm shocked that California is not on that list. Must be an oversight:

Gove said these patients will receive some guidance from Grady on setting up their health care in the new state, but will be largely left on their own in negotiating the system.

Officials say that eight patients have committed to locate back to their home country, and more may follow. Many come from Mexico but others are from Togo, Ethiopia, Honduras, El Salvador, the Philippines and Guyana (emphasis added). The hospital is working with the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta and a private group that specializes in relocating people to Latin America and helping them obtain health care there.

I think we all know that, if anyone on dialysis has to go back to their home countries, it will be a death sentence. But, there's the rub. They shouldn't have been here in the first place. But, those who demand that the US be compassionate have decreed that illegal immigrants should have rights as quasi-citizens, including access to our generous welfare state. Apparently, providing unlimited kidney dialysis (and the like) is a solemn duty of the United States. But throwing the door so wide open will mean places like Grady Memorial will be sucked dry and placed in the unpalatable position of closing essential services to avoid the piteous claims of the undocumented.

It's a stark exemplar of Gerald Ford's warning that a government big enough to give you everything you want can also take it all away.

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