LOS ANGELES - Ana Puente was an infant with a liver disorder when her aunt brought her illegally to the United States to seek medical care. She underwent two liver transplants at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center as a child in 1989 and a third in 1998, each paid for by the state.
But when Puente turned 21 in June, she aged out of her state-funded health insurance and the ability to continue treatment at UCLA.
Late last month Puente learned of another, little-known option for patients with certain healthcare needs. If she notified US Citizenship and Immigration Services that she was in the country illegally, state health officials might grant her full coverage through Medi-Cal, the state health services assistance program for the poor.
"It doesn't matter if I'm undocumented," Puente said. "They should take care of me at UCLA for the rest of my life because I've been there since I was a baby."
Should illegal immigrants receive liver transplants in the United States and should taxpayers pick up the cost?