Hundreds of legal and illegal immigrants in Arizona are being sent back to their home countries, sometimes against their will, for medical treatment because they lack insurance.
In some cases, the FBI and police, responding to allegations of kidnapping, have been called in to halt such forcible removals, according to patients' lawyers.
The forcible removals are the result of federal and state law mandating that only U.S. citizens and legal residents are eligible for Medicaid. As a result, state hospitals are pressured to transport noncitizens, even if they're legally in the U.S., at the hospitals' expense, back to their home countries, at a cost of up to $100,000.
They are doing this to people who are here legally.
The alarming scenario has come to light in recent weeks with the dramatic case of Sonia Iscoa Del Cid, a house cleaner in the country legally under temporary protected status, who woke up from a coma last week only to realize that she was going to be forced back to her native Honduras because she lacked insurance for long-term care.
The scenario was not unfamiliar to Fernando Gaxiola, an attorney who said he has prevented three attempted forcible removals of uninsured clients. "One was a baby born in Arizona and because the parents couldn't pay and they were Mexican, University Medical Center in Tucson tried to fly the child to a hospital in Mexico," he said."They were waiting to move the child from the helicopter to an air ambulance when the police intervened."
Would this be acceptable if they were here illegally? Not exactly cheap to send them back. I am not happy that tax paying Americans are paying these bills, but on the other hand everyone should have the right to life.
A spokesman for University Medical Center, Katie Riley, declined to discuss specific cases but explained that the hospital has transported hundreds of patients back to their home countries.
"There are certainly some who are not happy," she said. "In most cases, long-term care [facilities] won't take people if they don't pay. And we have no choice."
So, the long-term care facilities in their country of orgin take them in? I really wonder what happens to these people.