[Peter Brimelow notes: Long-time immigration enthusiast enforcer John J. Miller, who had been frightened off the subject by our Chilton Williamson's Miller Watch, has belatedly discovered the illegal immigrant impact on hospitals too ("Caring for Illegals, Losing Their Shirts: The Effect Of The Wave On Border-State Medical Services," NR, March 24, 2003 – not online; précis here). Miller's idea on how to handle this problem differs somewhat from Sam's. Miller writes (and the editors let him write): "The best solution, of course, is for Mexico to improve its health-care system, but this will take time. A short-term solution would be to increase federal reimbursements." This, of course, is not conservatism, but what Paul Gottfried has called Goldbergism – the ideology of the right wing of the government party. That's why we've renamed NR the Goldberg Review]
Terrorists seeking vengeance for the war on Iraq may eventually breach U.S. borders, but if they do they may just get sick. SARS, the new disease from China, was imported not by terrorists but by fairly ordinary travelers, among whom not a few immigrants are included. By the time the terrorists get here, the respiratory disease could be a bigger problem for them than the FBI, let alone the Border Patrol.
But aside from diseases that mass immigration imports—since 1997, there are some 7,000 cases of leprosy in this country, virtually unknown in the continental United States historically—immigrants themselves are responsible for mammoth health care costs—which the American taxpayer has to pick up.
A New York Times article earlier this week tells the story.
"The American Hospital Association estimated that in 2000, the 24 southernmost counties from Texas to California accrued $832 million in unpaid medical care, a quarter of which was directly attributable to illegal immigrants," the Times reports. "Now, the financial pressures are spreading north into larger cities, pushing the overall unpaid bills well into the billions of dollars and straining a health care system already stretched thin by rising numbers of uninsured citizens, inadequate Medicaid payments, ballooning federal and state deficits and federal laws that allow United States border agents to wave through anyone who claims to need emergency care."
["Burden Grows For Southwest Hospitals," By Michael Janofsky, New York Times, April 14, 2003]
But the crisis isn't confined to the Border States. "The problem is moving well beyond" them, a policy analyst with the American Hospital Association told the NY Times. "This is a much broader issue."
Yet in one border state, Dr. Paul Stander, medical director of a hospital in Arizona, says his hospital treats some 15 illegal immigrants a day, compared to "just a few a month" only five years ago. The price tag for his hospital for the illegal freeloaders: $5 million a year. "As a result, he said, the wait for intensive care beds can last several days, some emergency room patients can wait as long as 24 hours to see a doctor, and plans to upgrade equipment have been delayed."
Well, what exactly did you expect? With the government refusing to enforce immigration laws adequately, with millions of illegal aliens in the country already and a half million entering every year, lots of the aliens get sick or injured and need to go to hospitals.
As the NY Times article points out, federal law requires hospitals to treat emergency cases regardless of the patient's ability to pay and "no matter where the patient lives." As a result, there are "thousands from Mexico and other countries who find their way into American hospitals every year for care they can neither get at home nor pay for in the United States."
The illegals who are bankrupting American hospitals—the NY Times reports that "For years, these patients have strained hospitals and health clinics near the border, driving some out of business and forcing many to reduce their services"—do not pay, however. Yet another article in the Times a week later reports on illegal immigrants who don't pay the taxes they are legally obliged to pay. Some do—mainly in the hope of getting refunds—and some don't. One illegal named Juan told the paper, "How am I going to pay taxes if I can't buy a pair of shoes for my daughter?" Welcome to America, Juan. Up here the government comes first; your daughter, last.
Juan and the 11 million other illegals already here might have thought about that problem before they came. A better question is how are Americans going to pay the taxes for hospital costs with lawbreakers like Juan and his wife and his daughter freeloading off the taxpayer. As Dr. Stander says, "it's clear we cannot be the provider of choice for all of northern Mexico. It's an impossible burden for us to take on."
That's why we should have expected the very crisis that is now upon us and may some day be upon you personally when you need emergency treatment at the local hospital—for whatever diseases immigrants have imported—or have to fork over your unfair share of the payment for medical treatments non-tax-paying illegal aliens have already received.
As Dr. Stander also told the Times, "all the trends would imply that things are going to get worse."
I can't tell you he's wrong.
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[Sam Francis [email him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection of his columns, America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available from Americans For Immigration Control.]