Don’t blame undocumented immigrants for the cost of emergency room medical care

11 Jul

Hospitals may absorb $26 million annually in care for undocumented, Ventura County Star, July 3, 2011

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being.”  Yet, in the United States many immigrants, particularly the undocumented, are excluded from public health care and health insurance programs.

The result? Many do not get the medical attention they need.  If they do, it is often at the eleventh hour at a county hospital emergency department.    As reported in the recent story from Ventura, California, county hospitals, which were created to service the underserved and uninsured, are struggling with the cost of providing these emergency services.

Politicians, such as U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), blame undocumented immigrants for causing this financial burden.  The blame, however, lies on our policy makers who put xenophobic exclusion over effective health care policies.

Providing individuals with health care insurance is not only cheaper, but in ensures that they receive timely and appropriate care for health services ranging from family planning to treating infectious diseases.  This is better for the public’s health.  This better for the financial stability of hospitals.

These policy makers don’t have to accept the WHO’s declaration that health is a right, but they should at least accept that the reason emergency care costs are high is because they are unwilling to pass policies that would grant immigrants access to health insurance.

In other news:

Your State Can’t Afford It: The Fiscal Impact of States’ Anti-Immigration Legislation, Center for American Progress, July 5, 2011

Despite the attention to states such as Arizona that have passed restrictive immigration laws, most states have rejected such bills.  This new report reviews why: the economic burden on immigrants and states and the high costs of implementation.

 Better Lives for Mexicans Cut Allure of Going North, New York Times, July 6, 2011

Journalist Damien Cave travels through Jalisco and speaks with families who are choosing to remain in Mexico rather than immigrate to the US, in part because of the increasing economic opportunities in Mexico and in part because of the increasing repressive treatment of immigrants in the US.  The report includes extensive graphics on immigration trends and video interviews with families in Mexico.

 Arizona Senate President Pearce Has Been Recalled, Huffington Post, July 8, 2011

A sufficient number of recall petitions, gathered by the group Citizens for a Better Arizona, to recall State Senator Russell Pierce.  The architect of SB 1070, the legislator has 5 days to leave office.

ACLU Files Lawsuit Charging Alabama’s Racial Profiling Law is Unconstitutional, New America Media, July 8, 2011
Arguing that Alabama’s law is even more restrictive than Arizona’s, the ACLU and other civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit charging that the states HB 56 unconstitutionally subjects Alabama residents to unlawful search a seizure, deters immigrant families from enrolling their children in schools or students from attending public colleges, and interferes with federal immigration authority.


One Response to “Don’t blame undocumented immigrants for the cost of emergency room medical care”


  1. Alabama law says no health care for undocumented immigrants « The Curious Ostrich - July 20, 2011

    […] want to expand on a point that my colleague Maria-Elena Young wrote in her last post, namely that undocumented immigrants are often blamed for the rise in Emergency Room costs. Many of […]

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