KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Dialysis Extension At Atlanta Hospital Eases Crisis For Illegal Immigrants

Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta will continue to finance dialysis treatments for some illegal immigrants.

The New York Times: "In early October, when Grady, Atlanta's public hospital, closed its outpatient dialysis unit for budgetary reasons, it agreed to pay for three months of dialysis at private clinics for about 50 dislocated patients. The patients, mostly illegal immigrants with no access to insurance, signed documents stating they understood that Grady's payments would end on Jan. 3. Until then, the hospital would help them relocate to their home countries or other states. But only a few immigrants left, and many of those who remain acknowledge that they have done little to explore what they regard as untenable options at home."

The extension "prolongs a standoff that has become emblematic of the medical crisis facing illegal immigrants. An estimated 7 million of the country's 11 million illegal immigrants have no health coverage and are not eligible for government insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid…. At Grady, where thrice-weekly dialysis treatments cost about $50,000 a year, the outpatient clinic ran a deficit of $3.5 million in 2008" (Sack, 1/5).

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that "The deadline for treatment has been extended several times. Most recently, Grady said it would pay for treatment until Feb. 3. After that, care will be decided by Grady on a case-by-case basis" (Poole, 1/5).

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