The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston is being accused of pressuring a paralyzed illegal immigrant to return to Mexico. The medical center has been treating Francisco Martinez for three months, after a workplace injury left him paralyzed from the chest down.
According to his wife, Brandi Cullen Valderram, Martinez does not have insurance so the hospital is trying to send him back over the border. Valderram says that she and her son are staying in a homeless shelter, while Martinez continues to be hospitalized.
She told KHOU-TV that the hospital has been telling the couple that there’s no other option, but for Martinez to return to Mexico, even offering him a free flight back, which he doesn’t want to accept.
“Under state and federal laws, we are obligated to provide emergency treatment without regard to citizenship, legal status or ability to pay,” University of Texas Medical Branch spokesman Raul Reyes told CBS Houston.
“There are no reimbursement provisions to the laws. Such a patient admitted to a hospital can be discharged after he or she is stabilized, with a patient’s consent or when the patient’s condition requires a transfer to a facility better equipped to continue treatment.”
Galveston is still trying to improve some of its facilities after Hurricane Ike devastated the area back in 2008. There’s also the issue of hospitals being obligated to pay for uncompensated health care, which has had its funding tapped into by the state legislature and Gov. Rick Perry to help balance the state’s budget.