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Who Pays for Illegal Immigrant Tetraplegics’ Treatment?

Quelino Jimenez was a construction worker paralyzed after a fall and then sent to an even more tragic fate in Mexico...

by
Theodore Dalrymple

Bio

February 20, 2014 - 9:00 am
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Modern medicine’s ability to save life – to keep people alive who would once have died – gives rise to an increasing number of ethical dilemmas. An article in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine discusses the case of Quelino Jimenez, a Mexican illegal immigrant who was employed as a construction worker in Chicago. He had a fall that rendered him tetraplegic; after emergency treatment to stabilize his condition, and some time in the hospital, he was repatriated against his will to Mexico, where, aged 21, he died because of a lack of medical care.

Jimenez, like the majority of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the Unites States, was uninsured. The law already prescribes that hospitals receiving Medicare funding must provide emergency care to anyone in need of it, without discrimination as to legal or insurance status. However, they are not under obligation to provide, nor will they be reimbursed for providing, long-term care for those who need it. Looking after tetraplegics is expensive and consumes much time and effort. Hospitals will therefore be anxious to transfer them (and the costs) elsewhere.

It is an elementary principle of medical ethics that doctors are not permitted to sort patients into deserving sheep and undeserving goats when providing treatment for them: they are supposed to do their best for everyone, prince or prisoner. The best for Quelino Jimenez was certainly not to be returned to conditions in which, only too predictably, he would be medically neglected.

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Top Rated Comments   
Mexico has universal health care. Why would anyone suspect he would die in such a caring country?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
"If Quelino Jimenez had been my patient, I would have fought tooth and nail on his behalf – for kindness’ and decency’s sake, and hang the consequences."

That's nice. But who are you going to rob to pay for it? Your logic demands that someone take money and services from someone who earned it, regardless of their own need for what they've earned, and hand it to someone who's already thumbed his nose at our legal system.

It's only charity when it's *your own* money. When you're noble with *my money*, it's theft.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Who should pay?

Easy answers:

1. Everybody who is responsible (for example, the construction company).
2. Anybody who wants to.
3. Nobody else. That includes taxpayers.


See? It's really not that difficult.

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (43)
All Comments   (43)
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........but would you have paid for his medical care, or would you force us, the taxpayer to do what you would not?
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
What so ever you do to the lest of my brothers, that you do unto me.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why was his employer not held responsible?
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
We should adopt Mexico's immigration laws. Here's a summation of their laws: You don't get in illegally. If you do, you're booted right back out. You don't get government benefits. You don't get to speak about or involve yourself in Mexican elections. If you are in Mexico illegally and you are injured, you are sent back across the border without medical care. These sound harsh, but they must be OK because nobody ever complains about them.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm guessing that he got the same level of care in Mexico as he would have gotten here under medicaid.

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Doctors should stick to doctoring, not border enforcement. That's better left to lawyers and law enforcement. Division of labor.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
A Buddhist would rather get out of the shell of a dying body and move onto his next life.

A Roman Catholic may want to move onto heaven.

Why is it better to live a tetraplegic than die? Is it fair to inflict the medical cost on the hospital who cannot afford to help him, or can help other less hopeless patients with their resources? At some point, we have to believe sh*it happens. When it's time to go, it's time to go.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Btw, the Construction company, not the hospital, is morally and financially responsible for his care. They violated the law to hire illegals. His family should sue them, their insurance, and the project owner.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I generally agree, assuming they knew he was illegal. While I will concede that odds are about 99% that they did know, many times companies follow the law as required for I-9 compliance and still get burned. The vast majority of illegals use forged documents. I may be wrong, but I think that identity theft is, in most instances, a felony.

The left keeps telling us that illegals aren't really criminals. Tell that to someone who has had their identity stolen by some poor, innocent illegal.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
If he were here legally and a part of the builder's union, then the union and the construction company would have taken care of him, but no, the illegals get the construction jobs at half the salary and no benefits, which I assume is what happened to him.

Even as an illegal alien he could have sued for the money to be well cared for in Mexico. It does come down to money, doesn't it?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
When you see activists rallying to demand quality, free, universal care for illegal immigrant dialysis patients and access to very limited transplants, while your loved ones -- who worked as long as they could, whose families worked their whole lives and paid taxes and followed laws and did not complain in the terrified hope of some modest medical stability they did not receive, you would be experiencing the entire face of activism.

When those who played by the rules receive no recourse to the social contract they fulfilled -- when the quiet ones are shoved into understaffed, dirty clinics or the back of disability lines, behind the grifters, with no public outcry -- then remember the fight you have not picked and remember that you did not pick it.

In the 1980's, American AIDS activists began demanding extraordinary resources (not just for research, but personal resources) for their disease. Contrary to how the activists remember it, those resources came quickly and have kept coming at extraordinary levels, and now (non-research) resources make AIDS patents the recipients of platinum-level medical services as other chronically ill patents are neglected, to death sometimes. But who knows that if there is no activist shouting it and so much noise coming from the loud ones?

There is no bottomless pit of money, so what the activists demanded, however excessive and unnecessary, came at the expense of others with chronic illnesses. The Gravest Show on Earth -- a brilliant book by Elinor Burkett, documents the effect of the loud shout of activism, as does Death of the Good Doctor.

In the era of the activist, the worst injustices are suffered by those who do not complain and do not have loud advocates. Why should a doctor feel an obligation to only the patient who bears the name "his patient," instead of to all of them?

Law is supposed to cure activism, but instead, we are becoming a nation of activists instead of a nation of laws. There is a simple legal solution to this particular problem: do away with illegal workers. Actually enforce our immigration laws and workplace laws and require employers to purchase medical insurance for guest workers, or else they can't have guest workers, and if they are caught with undocumented workers who grow ill, the expense falls only on them.

In this case, I don't understand why the construction company would not be liable, instead of the taxpayers. Were they constructing a city high-rise without workman's comp? We have laws about that even though it did occur in Chicago.


30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bravo!
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you, Dr. D.

If we lose site of mercy and compassion and basic decency and insist on the hard line in every case we will lose, and this is tragic as a hard line is not needed much less needed in every case.

All that's needed is a rather soft line. Put eVerify in every DMV, school admission office, and social service agency and the whole, healthy and able illegals who come here to leech will soon realize that the risk of arrest and deportation outweigh the unlikely possibility of benefits.

The ones that don't come here to leech -- like Jimenez -- aren't a huge part of the problem and can be handled with changes to guest worker laws.

BTW, notice that the place that kicked Jimenez out was Rahm Emmanuel's (and Obama's) Chicago.

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
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