FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Illegal Immigration, Misplaced Compassion, and Healthcare Reform
When listening to open borders agitators like former Florida governor Jeb Bush, one would come away with the impression that we owe it to the world to accept anyone who comes here illegally and pay for their living expenses. They speak of lofty ideals loosely connected to love and compassion, but they never consider the lack of love and compassion that our open borders policy imposes on the American consumer and taxpayer. There is no better example than the bankrupting of our hospitals at the hands of Jeb’s “lovely” invaders.
My wife and I were entreated to the chaos of emergency room care last night after our two-year-old son slipped while climbing onto a high kitchen counter and banged his head on the floor. He had a massive lump on his forehead and we were concerned about internal bleeding. When we drove to the closest hospital, the waiting room was full of illegals. Most of them were adults who, let’s just say, did not look like they were about to keel over. Opting not to wait all night simply for a decision whether to put our son through a CT scan, we drove for a half hour in the rain to a hospital that was less likely to be full of those who use ERs for regular care.
Thank God our son recovered and there was no internal bleeding, but in a different situation that extra time could have been critical. Also, if you ever wonder why you get hosed with outrageous bills simply for stepping foot in a hospital, look no farther than the “undocumented” costs of illegal aliens.
This is what the defenders of illegal immigration never comprehend or care to ponder. We can open our borders to any number of impoverished individuals from the world’s population of 7 billion. But that comes at a cost to American citizens and legal residents who are within the jurisdiction and responsibility of the country.
The problems with illegal immigrants and emergency hospital care also provide us with an opportunity to examine true free market healthcare reform. Any GOP healthcare proposal must be predicated not on “replacing” Obamacare, but on fixing even some of the anti-market federal policies that existed before passage of the monstrosity.
One of those policies is the mandate on hospitals to treat everyone who comes to an ER – including illegal immigrants – irrespective of whether they are suffering from a real emergency. In 1986, Congress passed The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which was ostensibly the first act in universal healthcare mandates.
If we ever plan to curb skyrocketing hospital costs and improve access to emergency care, we must address this massive unfunded federal mandate of EMTALA. Among the provisions of Rep. Paul Broun’s Patient Option Act, which is one of the best healthcare reform proposals, are some good reforms of emergency and indigent care. Under Broun’s proposal, hospitals would be allowed to turn away people from ERs if they do not have an immediate need for emergency care. This would solve the problem of illegal immigrants using ERs for primary care.
Juxtaposed to this provision is a tax credit for physicians who provide indigent care as a form of charity. While conservatives usually advocate deductions over credits for the cost of healthcare, that is for individuals who purchase health insurance. But for healthcare providers, especially for most doctors who already pay a tremendous amount in taxes, they should be incentivized to treat those without the means to pay for the care with a credit.
Taken as a whole, these two provisions would transfer the cost of indigent care from a federally-mandated tax on physicians and consumers to a voluntary tax incentive for physicians and those who donate to free-service clinics.
If the politicians are concerned about being compassionate to Americans and clamping down on illegal immigration, they should start with free market healthcare reform.