This week, in a benchmark legal case that has riveted health care providers and advocates for immigrants, a jury ruled that a South Florida hospital acted reasonably when it deported Luis Alberto Jimenez, an undocumented worker with a severe brain injury, back to his native Guatemala — against the wishes of his guardian — and was not liable for damages.
The hospital cared for the brain-damaged man for nearly three years. The federal government helps hospitals cover emergency care for uninsured patients — but not long-term care for undocumented workers.
Some have called these kinds of cases "medical rendition." Hospitals say they are justified in taking back beds for Americans who need them.
This hour, On Point: uninsured immigrants, hospitals strapped for cash, and a far-reaching deportation case in Florida.
You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.Guests:
Joining us from New York is Deborah Sontag. She's a reporter for The New York Times and has been covering the deportation of immigrants from U.S. hospitals for more than a year. "Jury Rules for Hospital That Deported Patient," "Immigrants Facing Deportation by U.S. Hospitals," and "Deported in a Coma, Saved Back in U.S."
Also from New York we're joined by Adam Gurvitch, a consultant to the National Immigration Law Center and former director of health advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition.
Joining us from San Francisco is Robert Margolin, a physician at the California Pacific Medical Association. He brought the subject of forced deportations before the California Medical Association, which went on to denounce them. As a result of his efforts, the American Medical Association has commissioned a study on the issue, which is due out in November.
This program aired on July 29, 2009.