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The way we pay for dialysis for undocumented immigrants shows how the U.S. health care finance system "wreaks havoc on people"s lives and our federal dollars," writes Baker Institute health policy scholar Elena Marks in a recent blog.

Under current laws, Medicare will not cover dialysis for undocumented immigrants in renal failure -- but if they become sick enough and are near death, treatment is available through hospitals that are eligible for emergency Medicaid funds. So while the federal government will not pay $80,000 for regular outpatient dialysis for undocumented immigrants through Medicare, it will pay $285,000 with emergency Medicaid funds.  

"As if the human tragedy of waiting for someone to nearly die before treating them were not bad enough in and of itself, our health care finance system gives financial incentives to do just that," Marks writes.

Read more in "Penny wise, pound foolish" at the Baker Institute Blog.