NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 22, 2005

Los Angeles County is being besieged by medical bills from the uninsured and the illegal immigrants who visit its emergency rooms, reports Fox News.

Legal residents of California are entitled to basic hospital services if they are poor, and many of the poor are uninsured. Last year, Los Angeles County spent $340 million to treat uninsured patients, about $1,000 for every taxpayer.

But legal and illegal aliens are responsible for the bulk of these visits, putting increased demands on the public health care system. Critics say that taxpayers cannot become the HMO of the world:

  • Sixty percent of the county's uninsured patients are not U.S. citizens, with more than half living in the country illegally.
  • About 2 million undocumented aliens in Los Angeles County are crowding emergency rooms because they can't afford to see a doctor.
  • The added demand for services has led to rationing: Patients can wait up to four days for a hospital bed and up to two years for a gallbladder surgery.

To make matters worse, illegal immigrants can even get care ahead of American citizens.

Los Angeles County supervisor Mike Antonovich says that caring for illegals is diverting funds from other services and forcing clinics, trauma centers and emergency rooms to close. He laments: "We cannot afford to have an open-door policy to encourage illegals to continue to come here and receive all the medical care because it's too expensive".

Source: "L.A. Emergency Rooms Full of Illegal Immigrants," Fox News, March 18, 2005.


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