KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Judge Dismisses Immigrants Lawsuit Against Atlanta Hospital

"Efforts to force the public hospital [in Atlanta, Ga.] to continue providing free dialysis treatment to a group of immigrants, most of them illegal, suffered a setback on Tuesday when a judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the recent closing of the hospital's outpatient renal clinic," The New York Times reports. "A lawyer for the roughly 50 patients said he would appeal. But the ruling for Grady Memorial Hospital brings the patients closer to a Jan. 3 deadline for finding new sources of the life-sustaining dialysis treatment." The hospital, which provides charity care regardless of immigration status, "closed the clinic for fiscal reasons in early October" and "agreed to pay for three months of dialysis for the patients at private clinics, either in the United States or in their home countries. That reprieve has nearly expired, and most of the patients have not taken steps to seek treatment elsewhere" (Sack, 12/15).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The patients and advocates said the closing of the clinic violated their constitutional right to the health care service. The patients also asserted that the closure represented medical abandonment. But the judge agreed with the hospital that these patients did not have either a state or federal constitutional right to outpatient dialysis service, and that Grady was not legally bound to provide it."

"The advocate group that filed the lawsuit said it will appeal the decision. ... Grady has helped relocate several back to their home countries and to other states that provide such care for illegal immigrants. [Matt] Gove, the Grady spokesman, said three of the clinic patients have died since the clinic closed," although not because they did not receive dialysis, he said (Schneider, 12/15).

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