The Jury Rules For America!
August 03, 2009, 02:47 PM
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A civil jury of six Americans has decided, unanimously, that Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart, FL acted reasonably in its do-it-yourself deportation of Luis Jimenez, a brain-damaged illegal alien who had already cost the hospital $1.5 million in uncompensated care while he bunked with them over three years. So the hospital won't have to pay a $1-million claim lodged against it for continuing, lifetime care of Jimenez, who now resides with his elderly mother in a remote Guatemalan village. Nor will the hospital be liable for punitive damages arising from its creative approach to self-preservation (or, really, preservation for the American citizens who pay its bills).

The basic aspects of the case are covered in three paragraphs of an article from the Miami Herald:

Like millions of others, Jimenez came to the United States to work as a day laborer, sending money home to his family. In 2000, a drunk driver crashed into a van he was riding in, leaving him a paraplegic with the cognitive ability of a fourth-grader.

The man who caused the accident — which killed two people — was driving a stolen van. An insurance policy ended up paying a total of $30,000 in compensation that had to be split among Jimenez and three other victims, including the families of those who died.

Under federal law, hospitals that receive Medicare reimbursements are required to provide emergency care to all patients regardless of their ability to pay and must provide an acceptable discharge plan once the patient is stabilized. (Jury rules in favor of hospital that deported injured Guatemalan, by Laura Wides-Munoz, July 28, 2009)

The law referred to just above is the horror known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act [EMTALA]. As Wikipedia explains,

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (42 U.S.C. § 1395dd, EMTALA) is a United States Act of Congress passed in 1986 as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. It requires hospitals and ambulance services to provide care to anyone needing emergency treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay. There are no reimbursement provisions. As a result of the act, patients needing emergency treatment can be discharged only under their own informed consent or when their condition requires transfer to a hospital better equipped to administer the treatment.

EMTALA applies to "participating hospitals", i.e., those that accept payment from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under the Medicare program. However, in practical terms, EMTALA applies to virtually all hospitals in the U.S., with the exception of the Shriners Hospitals for Children, Indian Health Service hospitals, and Veterans Affairs hospitals. The combined payments of Medicare and Medicaid, $602 billion in 2004, or roughly 44% of all medical expenditures in the U.S., make not participating in EMTALA impractical for nearly all hospitals. EMTALA's provisions apply to all patients, and not just to Medicare patients. [Emphases added.]

EMTALA is thus a further Medicare-induced burden on health-services providers beyond the lowball reimbursements Medicare already pays for its direct beneficiaries.

Reader comments at the Miami Herald article on the informally deported illegal alien and at a parallel article from the National Public Radio website don't rise to the standard of "articulate ferocity," but they're overwhelmingly on the side of immigration sanity.

Thus let's hope that many more American juries will get chances to decide immigration-related cases in the near future!