Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Arizona mulling no health care for illegal immigrants

When Mini Militant was born, I was slightly disgruntled to discover that the illegal immigrants in the room next to us (lovely couple, by the way) were having their son's extensive hospital stay paid for by the hospital trust because they didn't have insurance.

The fact that they're required to do this by New Jersey state law explains why the birth of our baby boy wound up costing our insurer $40,000 or more.

'Paying customers' like us were basically picking up the shortfall for giving tens of thousands of dollars of 'free' care to the uninsured (and, if we didn't, the hospital would go out of business.)

In California, where there are many more illegal immigrants, the legal requirement to give treatment to the uninsured has actually resulted in a slew of hospitals and clinics shutting up shop. It's a very serious issue and one of the major reasons why health care costs are spiralling out of control all across the country.

Well, in Arizona they've said: "No more."

Republican lawmakers in Arizona have proposed a bill that would require hospitals to check the immigration status of each patient before they were checked in - and refuse them service if they were illegal.
Arizona SB 1405 "Before a hospital admits a person for nonemergency care, a hospital admissions officer must confirm that the person is a citizen of the United States, a legal resident of the United States or lawfully present in the United States."
The bill would require hospitals to refuse treatment to non-urgent patients, and force them to call federal immigration officers after giving urgent care to illegal aliens. These were important steps, the sponsors of the bill argued, to reining in what they defined as rampant abuse of Arizona's medical system.

"I get calls from doctors and nurses every day that work in the emergency rooms," argues State Senate President Russell Pearce, co-sponsor of the bill. "They're talking about the abuse. The millions of dollars spent for folks who come in for pregnancy tests, sniffles. They use emergency room services as their primary care physician. When do we stand up for the taxpayers? Those who pay for insurance? There's a cost to this. The cost of hundreds of millions of dollars."

"No, nobody is going to turn those folks down. The federal law still requires us to take emergencies and stabilize them. What we want to do is stop the inducement. Quit inviting people over the border. While we give them free stuff, they come here and get free medical. I have to pay for my insurance, they walk in, because they're illegal they get free care, they use the emergency room as the primary care physician. We're saying enough is enough."

Is 'enough' enough?

I admit, I share the frustration of Pearce and the sponsors of the bill - but ultimately I have a decidedly European outlook to health care and feel that providing medical care to all is one of the basic, fundamental requirements of a civilized country.

Yet with America spending more on health care than any other country on Earth - and medicare and other entitlements about to send the nation into virtual foreclosure - can we afford to give foreign nationals [illegal foreign nations, to clarify - not legal aliens - Editorial Bear] the medical care they should be getting at home?

What are you thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Emergency care should be given to all.

A pregnancy test... not so much.

Tom said...

We should give foreign nationals who are permanent residents, or here on an appropriate visa, the same consideration we give citizens.

It's the foreign nationals that are here illegally that we should withold non-emergency treatment from.

Roland, given that until recently you were one, you should be more careful about equating foreign nationals with illegal immigrants.

Roland Hulme said...

VERY good point Tom - I meant to discern between the two. I'm going in to correct that.