Court backs Atlanta hospital’s denial of care to immigrants

African-American patient on dialysis

African-American patient on dialysis

Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta recently closed the doors to its outpatient kidney clinic. The clinic provided life-sustaining dialysis treatment, and the hospital provided charity care to patients regardless of their immigration status. However, the hospital closed the clinic in October for “fiscal reasons.” A group of some 50 immigrant patients sued Grady, pointing out that the public hospital was abandoning them. Today’s New York Times reports that Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural D. Glanville ruled that Grady acted legally.

Medicare pays for the expensive dialysis treatments for U.S. citizens and documented immigrants. Grady provided dialysis treatment to a significant number of undocumented immigrants, who are ineligible for Medicare. The first priority of Grady, like the entire U.S. health care system, is to make a buck. The so-called health care industry is not interested in providing health care; rather, its interested in turning a profit.

Grady has provided the immigrants denied dialysis treatment through the closure of the hospital’s clinic with bridge coverage at a private dialysis center for 3 months. However, the undocumented workers are on their own after that time. Without dialysis treatment, they will die — but Grady will have saved some money.

(See a couple of prior posts on immigrant health care and denial of insurance to undocumented workers.)

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 at 22:03