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`’TON Pho to by Alic ia Dan ie l Clayton confer. “My husband was a fruit picker who on Monday went to work. I expected him home at 6 p.m. and he did not arrive. We began to worry, and finally about 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning he arrived in a taxi. He told me that he had gotten hurt while working in the fields, and that Jesus Rodriguez, the crewleader, had brought him back to Reynosa and deposited him at the doors of the Red Cross. Red Cross took my husband in in an unconscious state. When he regained his consciousness he asked to go to his home. . . . Since his death in 1976, my [three] children have been receiving social security checks which at present total $272 a month.” They receive no workers’ compensation benefits. Margarito Patlan of Edinburg testified: “I support my wife and six children and have been a farmworker since I was 12 years old. I have been an irrigator for about 20 years. “My employer is Ferrell-MarshHoffman, Inc., and I worked under foreman Frank De Leon. This company plants and harvests sugar cane. “On June 3, 1983 at 6 a.m. I cut my right foot with a glass while I was irrigating. The cut was deep and was bleeding but I continued to work until 7 a.m. when Frank De Leon arrived. I informed him of the cut, and he told me to go home and be back at noon so I could change the water. I went home and my wife bandaged and cleaned the cut. When I returned to work at noon, one of the bosses told me to go see a doctor, but said he was not sure if they had insurance or not. “On Saturday, June 4, my foot was so swollen that I went to the emergency room in Edinburg and remained hospitalized until June 10. The doctor who cared for me suggested that I not return to work for two months. “The company refused to pay for any of my hospital or medical care. Frank and Marlin Marsh then offered me my job when I got well and suggested that I seek public assistance to pay for my medical care. Mr. Marsh did offer to loan me some money. “My hospital and doctor bills, which remain unpaid, totaled $2,000. “I applied to public welfare and my application was approved. They gave us a total of $753 and they will pay all of my medical care that is unpaid. “Before I was completely healed, and because I was not receiving any kind of income, I returned to work and infected the same foot again. I have continued to work as best I can because I need to work to help my family. . . .” Maria de la Luz Gonzalez of Pharr told the committee about breaking a foot and ankle in 1973, while carrying a bushel of green bell peppers to a truck. She was working for Griffin and Brand at the time under a crew leader named Adam Enriquez. While crossing a plank over an irrigation ditch, de la Luz was edged off the plank by another worker and sustained her injury. Enriquez took her to McAllen Hospital and left her there. Since that time, de la Luz, who was the only wage earner in her family, has not been able to work. She has had three operations on her foot and one on her hip and must use crutches to walk. “The grower did not provide me with any type of insurance nor with any financial assistance,” said de la Luz. All of my medical expenses have been paid by Medicaid. From 1973 through 1976 I received $115 from AFDC. From 1976 I started to receive Social Security starting at $180 per month; today I receive $304 per month. . . When the farmworker is injured, he or she is not the only one hurt. John Mims testified to the effect of uncovered worker injury on the McAllen Methodist Hospital, of which he is the administrator. “What occurs when a hospital, any hospital, when we take a person who’s been injured or who has an illness that can’t pay,” Mims told the committee, “we take care of that person, they’re discharged, the cost of taking care of that patient is simply passed to the other paying patients who come into our hospitals, or to the taxpayers, be it Medicare, Medicaid, or other governmental programs who will pay for this care. “This cost is passed through the paying patient back to the insurance company, and then each of us at the table here winds up paying for the care that has been rendered through increased costs in our insurance premiums, or through increased costs in our taxes that go up to take care of thesepatients wno cannot pay. . . . We did about approximately $3 million of uncompensated care at McAllen Methodist Hospital for fiscal year 1982. For the first 9 months of this fiscal year, which is through June of 1983, we have provided about $2,800,000 of uncompensated care. “McAllen Methodist Hospital is only one of five hospitals in the county. All the hospitals share the burden. . . . We continue to try to. Because of increased competition that hospitals are facing and because of some governmental regulations, hospitals are becoming very costconscious; the public no longer wants us to pass along our costs to the paying patient or to the taxpayer. “We continue to try to give free care, to take care of people who need care, but some day hospitals are going to have to say ‘uncle’ and say we just can’t do it anymore.” In response to questions, Mims went on to say that $3 million in indigent care represented about 10% of the total income of the hospital and that it did not include doctors’ fees. That afternoon, Manuel Garcia of Valley Interfaith, an alliance of 38 Valley parishes and congregations organized by the Industrial Areas Foundation, told the committee that “the taxpayers of Texas should no longer bear the burden of increased medical costs, higher welfare rolls, children and women working in the fields because the head of the family has been incapacitated by work-related injuries. The Rio 12 JANUARY 13, 1984