Dr. Gene Rogers spoke out against California’s policies of providing free health care to illegal aliens at the expense of poor Americans who are being squeezed out of the system. It cost him his job.
In a two-sentence memo to Dr. Rogers, the county’s Health and Human Services director, Lynn Frank, informed him that he was fired, but thanked him for his services. No reason for his termination was offered, but then he didn’t really expect one. “Sacramento County knowingly violated state and federal laws, misappropriated taxpayer revenues and diverted funds designated for indigent citizens to pay for services delivered to illegal aliens,” Dr. Rogers said. “And they did so even as they cut the budget.”
Ironically, when Dr. Rogers, 67, took the position of medical director for the indigent services program back in 1999, he arrived in the Central Valley with hardly a clue (let alone an opinion) about illegal immigration and its impact on social services. He had one goal: to provide the best care possible for those who need it most.
As the years went by, however, that egalitarian perspective began to be tinged with cynicism as he watched poor citizens get squeezed out of the system even as illegal immigrants gleefully manipulated it, all while bureaucrats facilitated the rampant violations of the very laws they were entrusted to enforce.
“I’ve seen cases and case histories of patients who essentially have come up from Mexico for the express purpose of being treated here, and then leaving to return home,” Dr. Rogers said. “I’ve watched illegal immigrants brazenly demand free, non-emergency health care that was meant for our poorest citizens. I’ve heard them and their families complain. They feel entitled to it.” Dr. Rogers filed a lawsuit in 2003 after county officials “stonewalled” him when he questioned why they were cutting budgets while still providing non-emergency medical treatment to people who have no legal right to be in the country.
The lawsuit is currently under appeal in federal court, but its impact was felt in the state capital, causing a nervous Latino Legislative Caucus in California last year to push through a bill by state Sen. Deborah Ortiz that explicitly allows counties to “opt” to provide non-emergency medical care to illegal immigrants. Sacramento County also responded, Dr. Rogers said, by seeking to alienate him from his prior relationships with county medical staff and by methodically preparing to fire him — with a little humiliation thrown in along the way. On one occasion, Dr. Rogers said, he was forced to sit through a staff meeting in which his supervisors asked case-management nurses one by one if they had any issues or problems with him. None said they did, but it was a humiliating experience.
“I am concerned that you continue to focus on patients’ immigration status,” Program Manager Nancy Gilberti said in a negative work review, “which is outside your and [the] program’s purview.” Mrs. Gilberti’s remarks reflect a prevailing culture that has emerged in government: a culture that will not tolerate anyone who dares to draw a distinction between American citizens and illegal immigrants. It is a culture that now pervades police departments, public schools and universities, social services and health care.
This attitude is apparently becoming pervasive, though it’s not universal yet. A year ago, Dallas County, TX decided to bill Mexico for the millions of taxpayer dollars it was shelling out to pay for medical services for illegal aliens. At that time, the bill stood at at least $15 million.
I’m sure Mexico got a check in the mail immediately.