Galveston hospital may cut cancer care for illegal immigrants

posted at 3:05 pm on December 3, 2007 by Bryan

Open borders types like Max Boot wax rhapsodic about the all-positive implications and effects of illegal immigration.

Obviously it is wrong for anyone to break the law, but the desire of foreigners to come here to work seems like the most benign sort of lawbreaking imaginable. Lots of other laws are broken routinely — prostitution laws, speeding laws, tax laws — and yet they are not the subject of heated exchanges at presidential debates.

What makes illegal immigration so bad? There is no question that an influx of illegals puts pressure on public services, especially in the border states, and that issue needs to be addressed, perhaps with greater assistance from Washington. But it is hardly unmanageable, especially because illegal immigrants, while making use of some government services, also contribute a lot to society via sales taxes and other means without collecting Social Security, unemployment or other benefits available to legal residents. Studies of the net economic effect of illegal immigration show mixed results.

There is quite a bit wrong with that passage and the article as a whole, notably a conservative arguing for “greater assistance from Washington” to deal with the pressure that illegal aliens put on government services. Where, Mr. Boot, will that “greater assistance from Washington” actually come from? The law-abiding taxpayer, of course! And Boot, who usually writes tough articles about war and security, never gets around to the argument that tends to supersede the economic and cultural arguments against illegal immigration; namely, that if day laborers and coyotes and drug smugglers can cross back and forth with impunity, so can terrorists. To paraphrase an old political saw, it’s the security, stupid.

Additionally, in border states, illegal aliens often cross in not to work, but to take advantage of US government services. They’re not actually contributing anything on this side of the border, but they are costing us millions of dollars every year. When you don’t pay into a system but do take benefits out of it, you’re a net loss on that system.

But back to the economics. It’s fashionable to characterize illegal immigration as an essentially victimless crime. Tell that to the poor American citizens in Galveston whose hospital is being strained to the breaking point by illegals who take advantage of US generosity to obtain long-term care that they have no intention of paying for.

The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston may soon close its doors to poor illegal immigrants who need cancer care, a move that could increase the patient load in Harris County.

The medical school, unable to meet the demand for cancer care by indigent patients with limited state funds, is considering a policy that would require patients to prove they’re here legally to qualify for financial assistance. That would save the hospital system money but contradict its mission of providing care for the poor.

“Everyday, very difficult decisions have to be made because there are too few resources for the demand,” said Karen Sexton, vice president and CEO of hospitals and clinics at the medical branch.

The policy decision, which has been under consideration for months by the medical branch’s Cancer Patients Acceptance Committee, is expected to be made by January and any changes would be effective immediately, Sexton said.

Again, we’re talking about long-term care here, where one patient can easily rack up millions of dollars in expenses that the hospital won’t get reimbursed by insurance or anyone else for. The problem introduced by this is very simple, and can be rendered by the phrase “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” The money to care for illegal aliens has to come from somewhere. State hospitals like UTMB don’t get reimbursed by anyone — not the state government, not Washington and certainly not the illegals’ countries of origin — for the care that they give to illegal aliens who can’t pay for it. So the hospital faces a choice: Continue to eat the cost of illegal alien care at the expense of its own budget, or cut care to illegals off so that it can better care for US citizens and legal residents that it’s supposed to serve. Many hospitals have faced the same choice, chosen to continue caring for illegal aliens, and have ended up having to shut down entirely. If you’re looking for illegal immigration’s victims, the citizens and legal residents who would have been cared for but now won’t be because their hospital went broke caring for illegals are among your victims. UTMB is evidently trying to prevent that outcome, and will make its decision in January. If it cuts long-term care for illegal aliens off, they’ll head to Houston, where presumably they’ll just stress more hospitals by receiving care at US taxpayer expense.

Citizenship is not considered by the Harris County Hospital District — and it shouldn’t be since it receives state funding for indigent care, said King Hillier, vice president of public policy and government relations of the district, which operates Ben Taub General, Houston’s largest public hospital.

“We do not question citizenship status,” he told the Galveston County Daily News. “If they live in Harris County and can prove residency, then they are paying taxes. If they’re paying rent, then their landlord is paying property taxes to the hospital district.”

They’ll begin to question citizenship status if the expenses reach a pain threshold.

Open borders types like Mr. Boot ought not put hospitals in the position of having to make choices like this. A secure border and cutting off sanctuary policies would go a long way to alleviating the very real negative effects of illegal immigration that evidently escape the open borders crowd’s notice.


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There is your healthcare crisis! But wait I didn’t see anywhere in that article where patients were put out on the street like the liberals say is happening. I thought in this country that if you didn’t have insurance you were just kicked to the curb. That is what I keep hearing on the news and reading in the papers.
You mean that ain’t true either?
/PS I heard a rumor things were going pretty good in Iraq, but it is just a rumor.

LakeRuins on December 3, 2007 at 3:13 PM

Galveston hospital may cut cancer care for illegal immigrants

Can’t wait for the High Reverend Hucksterocchio to say that if elected president, neither his soul nor Chuck Norris would permit that.

MB4 on December 3, 2007 at 3:27 PM

…because illegal immigrants, while making use of some government services, also contribute a lot to society via sales taxes and other means without collecting Social Security, unemployment or other benefits available to legal residents

Wait… since “sales taxes and other means” obviously bring in so much money that states can–nay, must–provide expensive cancer treatments to anyone that wants it regardless of legal status, then why should any legal American citizen ever pay FICA or unemployment insurance taxes?

According to Das Boot, the majority of legal and illegal citizens use those services–meaning there’s plenty of cash for “manageable” public services. If that were true, then why aren’t schoolteachers pulling in $100K starting salaries and every little girl dreaming of being a dialysis technician/nurse rather than the next Hannah Montana?

ScottMcC on December 3, 2007 at 3:27 PM

Even this is a tax raise, I would be glad to spend twice as much government money on hospitals in Southern Mexico and Central America as we spend on illegal immigrant care here in this country–if in exchange for that, any hospital personnel inside the United States who provides any service whatsoever to an illegal has to pay for the service out of their own pocket. Illegals should no more get free health care than the punishment for shoplifting should be chocolate cheesecake or a sumptuous vegan cake for the vegan shoplifter.

thuja on December 3, 2007 at 3:34 PM

also contribute a lot to society via sales taxes

Really? How much “sales tax” can these poor people, getting paid less for Jobs-Americans-Won’t-Do and sending every last unneeded penny home actually contribute?

(Apologies for that run-on sentence)

Frozen Tex on December 3, 2007 at 3:35 PM

Again, we’re talking about long-term care here, where one patient can easily rack up millions of dollars in expenses that the hospital won’t get reimbursed by insurance or anyone else for. The problem introduce by this is very simple, and can be rendered by the phrase “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”

RACIST!!!!1

Mike Honcho on December 3, 2007 at 3:45 PM

also contribute a lot to society via sales taxes

I’m not sure how much they’re paying in sales taxes, either. I mean, a certain amount of sales taxes are unavoidable, like on groceries and such. But based on the last few sales I’ve made through Craigslist, I’d say that it is fairly common for those who don’t speak English well to buy many of their big-ticket items used and off the books (not that I’m lumping everyone who has trouble speaking English into the illegal category, but it’s a starting place). I doubt they’re buying appliances and furniture and used cars through Craigslist for the purpose of avoiding sales taxes–that’s just a bonus. They’re looking for bargains, and Craigslist is a great place to find them. I’ve just been surprised at how many people respond to Craigslist ads who can’t speak much English. And lots of people buying most or all of their furniture and appliances and other big-ticket items for cash and without sales tax is a huge amount of sales tax that the local government does not collect when it all adds up.

aero on December 3, 2007 at 4:10 PM

do you know what’s funny about this? during Thanksgiving, KHOU, a CBS affiliate, did a story on how Americans are going to Mexico for healthcare because of the affordability. KHOU is not known for being a balanced news outlet, espectially on the topic of illegal aliens.

Illegal aliens come here because they can’t afford it in Mexico, Americans are going to Mexico because it’s affordable.

why isn’t the Mexican government offering free healthcare or affordable healthcare to its citizens instead of encouraging them to come to America?

madmonkphotog on December 3, 2007 at 4:21 PM

I have absolutely no problem with UTMB treating these poor folks.

The Government of the country of origin should be billed accordingly and the patient should be repatriated on release.

TheSitRep on December 3, 2007 at 4:35 PM

The ACLU lawyers are loading up in Washington DC and getting ready for a road trip south.

conservnut on December 3, 2007 at 4:53 PM

also contribute a lot to society via sales taxes
Really? How much “sales tax” can these poor people, getting paid less for Jobs-Americans-Won’t-Do and sending every last unneeded penny home actually contribute?

(Apologies for that run-on sentence)

Frozen Tex on December 3, 2007 at 3:35 PM

In most of Texas, the sales tax is around 8.5%, and a lot of food items (basically anything that has to be ‘cooked’) are exempt. Of course there is a hefty tax on gasoline and on cigarettes. School clothes and things like back packs are tax exempt, provided you buy them on the weekend in August when the tax is waived on those items.

I really do wonder how much social security tax is paid by illegals. To the extent such is actually withheld from their pay, remember that the employer is matching that amount. So, the tax paying employer is paying just as much in SS tax as the illegal is. And of course the state or county hospital gets none of that money.

Bottom line to me is that there is no way to figure that taxes paid by illegals constitute more than a drop in the bucket of what it costs to run a county hospital system.

This whole “no cancer care for illegals” scare-talk reminds me of what happens here in San Antonio every time there is a nickle’s worth of shortfall in city revenues. What does the City Council threaten to cut? Why public libraries and school crossing guards, of course.

Labamigo on December 3, 2007 at 5:00 PM

do you know what’s funny about this? during Thanksgiving, KHOU, a CBS affiliate, did a story on how Americans are going to Mexico for healthcare because of the affordability. KHOU is not known for being a balanced news outlet, espectially on the topic of illegal aliens.

Oh, dear, that’s playing with fire for those Americans. I’ve processed their claims at the evil insurance company and you would not believe the crazy treatments Mexico prescribed for cancer, etc. I realize it’s cheaper, but it’s also unproven treatments that are more likely to do harm than good. Hydrogen peroxide as an IV treatment – dude was lucky he survived…

(off my healthcare soapbox).

mjk on December 3, 2007 at 5:23 PM

In my view, the hospitals have no choice but to serve everyone that comes through their doors. Citizenship should not be an issue. Unfortunately it looks like many more hospitals will have to close those doors before all of the United States wakes up to realize it’s the borders that need to close.

oakpack on December 3, 2007 at 5:43 PM

Texas has lots of money. They like the illegals. Why shouldn’t they pay for their health care? Their employers in Texas tell them to go to emergency for a cough or cold because they don’t provide health insurance. Sixty hospitals in California closed last year going broke providing free care to the wonderful illagals. Rudy welcomes them in New York state. Let them go there where they have lots of money and are welcome. New Yorkers don’t mind. They even tried to give them drivers licenses and voting rights. Good idea! Lots of room in New York City and the surrounding state.

countywolf on December 3, 2007 at 6:46 PM

I thought in this country that if you didn’t have insurance you were just kicked to the curb.
LakeRuins on December 3, 2007 at 3:13 PM

Or take hostages at Hillary’s campaign office to try and tell her you cant afford your meds because you don’t have insurance.

because as we all know he couldnt get a hold of her at the clinton news network when he called before.

Mojack420 on December 3, 2007 at 7:04 PM

I am sorry that they have the cancer, but what about our citizens that lose a spot at the hospital because of the illegal? What about the people that are losing hospitals in their areas because the hospitals were forced to close because of the burden placed on it by illegals? Why isn’t money being spent in Mexico to treat these people?

Pam on December 3, 2007 at 7:09 PM

Using services you don’t have an intention of paying for?

That’s opportunism at best, theft at worst. Where’s the concern about being fair to people who have paid taxes to make things like hospitals possible?

Boot is an idiot “…Studies of the net economic effect of illegal immigration show mixed results.”

Is that why the CBO’s studies shows that wages for unskilled workers have declined?

Everyone says we need illegal workers, but they are only just under 5% of the total labour force and aren’t a majority in any field – not even farm workers (where they make up 24% of the labour force)!

If illegal immigration is so benign, then why is unemployment for unskilled labourers (legally here), on the rise?

Is that why of the estimated 11 million illegal aliens here, approximately 7 million work; who supports the other 4 million? Not the minimum wage worker.

Is this why the poverty rate among Hispanics (they comprise the largest percentage of the illegal alien population), is skyrocketing – up 162% since 1980, and the Office of the President says the average wage for a Mexican national living in the US is $9?

If illegals pay into the system and contribute via taxes, why is an estimated $20 billion annually sent back to Mexico? That’s $20 billion that doesn’t go in to schools, hospitals or the US economy in general.

Never mind the anecdotal stories in our own lives; schools overcrowded, curriculum moving toward bi-lingual/ESL focused, hospitals in dire shape, crowded roads, water shortages (in some states), infrastructure stressed, difficulty finding employment, property taxes rising…

Yet illegal immigration isn’t that much of a stress? Come on…

linlithgow on December 3, 2007 at 7:16 PM

Seriously, which has got to be cheaper:
Hospitalization, or a one-way ride to the Rio Grande?

Tzetzes on December 3, 2007 at 9:16 PM

Thank you Bryan for calling attention to the serious economic plight of our nation’s hospitals in dealing with the problem of illegal immigration.

Bryan is correct in clearly defining the problem above. This article states the following:

The New Americans program promises health care, education and other state services for illegal and legal immigrants. The program will be publicly and privately funded.

And what usually happens is that liberal state governors like Rod Blagojevich of Illinois grant access to illegal aliens to the State’s Medicaid program, which then quickly puts a huge financial drain on an already drained government-funded tax-payer funded program.

Governor Rod then marches in parades, and announces to the media that he has “solved” the problem of health care for illegals in the state of Illinois.

But the bottom line is that at the end of the day, the hospitals receive pennies in financial Medicaid reimbursement. The ugly reality is that financial expenses for illegal aliens are high, but the governor, by state fiat, has reimbursed the hospitals with drastically lower revenues. The hospitals are then forced to cut staff. They then begin “down-sizing” non-clinical positions, and after that they start eliminating non-urgent clinical staff positions.

Illegal immigration is an economic nightmare for hospitals.

Remember, “there is no free lunch in economics.”

Somebody is paying for this.

ColtsFan on December 4, 2007 at 2:57 AM

In my view, the hospitals have no choice but to serve everyone that comes through their doors. Citizenship should not be an issue. Unfortunately it looks like many more hospitals will have to close those doors before all of the United States wakes up to realize it’s the borders that need to close.

oakpack on December 3, 2007 at 5:43 PM

Your thinking is why 80 hospitals in California have closed because Illegals used the emergency room as their Doctors office and then refused to pay the bill.

I live in California and a trip to the emergency room that are still open takes hours to get triaged let alone get treatment. My property taxes were just increased to keep our local hospital open with a bond issue for the Hospital.

I took my 82 year old mother to the ER and had to wait 6 hours for her to be looked at by a doctor and we had insurance including Medicare part B.

The waiting room was at least 70% Hispanic.

Don’t tell me that citizenship should not be an issue.

ScottyDog on December 4, 2007 at 12:49 PM