Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Salsa Train

Not that either political party gives a rip, but I think this little story ought to be an attention getter for the rest of us.

"Undocumented immigrants" and residents of northern Mexico who seek medical care in the U.S. are costing Americans hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

All along the U.S.-Mexico border, American hospitals are the place Mexicans go when they need care.

In an emergency, friends or relatives will drive a stricken resident of a border town in Mexico to a U.S. checkpoint - and U.S. ambulances will take the sick individual to a U.S. hospital, where the person is treated and is sometimes sent to more sophisticated facilities for further work, a report in USA Today reveals.

In some cases pregnant women cross the border after going into labor, seeking good medical care and citizenship for their newborn children.

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association took a survey and discovered that in 2002, Arizona medical centers reported losses of over $150 million due to treatment of foreign convalescents.

In Tucson, 75 miles north of the border, the University Medical Center will lose $12 million treating Mexicans because they will never be able to pay back the costs of their care. Hospitals do use international collection companies to pursue payments, but most costs go uncollected, reports USA Today.

University Medical president Greg Pivirotto said, "It's a drain that hurts your ability to render care."

That's an understatement.

Jim Dickson, chief executive officer at Copper Queen hospital in tiny Bisbee, Arizona, has had to lay off about 25 percent of his hospital staff and close the long-term care center and the maternity ward altogether, because of the losses incurred by treating foreign nationals.

Since hospitals are required by law to treat all emergency patients, regardless of nationality or legal status, the medical centers have no choice but to bear the costs - and cut U.S. jobs because of it.
You can see where this is going, can't you?

The federal government, after years of pressure from the health-care industry, finally announced last week a plan to reimburse U.S. hospitals for up to 30% of the unpaid bills they run up treating foreign nationals.

That still leaves losses of over $100M for the 38 hospitals along the Arizona border.

It always comes back to picking the pocket of John Q. Taxpayer sooner or later, doesn't it?

For my tax ducats, it seems like we'd save money by just invading Mexico again and this time annexing the entire thing. Either that or building a twenty-mile-wide moat from San Diego to Brownsville. For all the hoopla about past "boatlifts" in the Caribbean, we don't have twelve million "undocumented" Haitians overrunning the country and bleeding our social services down to the marrow.

If the Feds won't undertake "Operation Deportation," this just might be the next best thing.