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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

They said it was a new policy, just out: Denial of care for an insured undocumented immigrant

Over the Memorial Day weekend, a 9-year-old girl in the Bronx, New York went grocery shopping with her mother. A man banged into Lauren's left arm with his cart, tearing away part of a big mole. Her mother brought her to the local hospital's Emergency Room, where a biopsy of the mole revealed that Lauren had a serious skin cancer - melanoma.

At a cancer hospital, she was scheduled to have the mole, surrounding tissue lymph nodes in her arm removed, and to have scans of her lungs and liver. Yet no treatment has started: Lauren was born in Ireland, and is not a legal resident of the US. Since age 4, she has had regular checkups and immunizations through a managed care company that was set up by the Roman Catholic bishops of New York under contract with the state to provide Child Health Plus insurance – which had been created precisely for children who did not qualify for ordinary government insurance.

Her mother said, "Around the 14th of June I got the call that since she did not have any [legal] status, her request was being denied. I never heard anything about this until she got sick. They said it was a new policy, just out."

Though several employees of the insurer have said the matter has been resolved, Lauren still has not received treatment. Most recently, the surgery, which had been rescheduled for Wednesday, was further postponed because the hospital is not a member of the insurer's network of providers.

Advice to undocumented immigrants needing health care: Your local newspaper and your congressman may be strong champions. The Irish Times and the office of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer are now helping Lauren.

Read another child’s healthcare access story.

Thanks to Jim Dwyer for the source story in today's NY Times.

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