Illegal Immigrants: Equal Medical Care Or Better Medical Care?

As I

mentioned in a previous column,
I am hugely fat
pregnant right now (by the time this is published I may
have had the little critter…hopefully) so I have baby
issues on the brain.

Parkland Memorial Hospital in Texas is a fairly famous
institution and for a variety of reasons:

1. 
John F. Kennedy
died there in 1963

2.  Lee Harvey Oswald died there shortly after

3.  Jack
Ruby died there a few years later….by

coincidence

On the flip side, Parkland is also home to the second (
Hotlanta

is #1) busiest maternity ward in the country
with almost 16,000 new babies arriving each year.

What brought Parkland to my attention was an article in
the

Dallas Morning News
for which a hospital
mid-wife made the following observation about
childbirth:


“Hispanic women are just wonderful; they birth
wonderfully,` Tori Agustsdottir, the nurse-midwife,
confided as she stepped out of the room. `The perception
of

pain
is very cultural. These women don`t want
epidurals. But American women are quick to take the
medication.“ [
Parkland
will treat all moms-to-be
, June 12, 2006 By Sherry Jacobson]

It`s okay for this lady to make a derogatory and
racial
comment about American women, right?

While

pain tolerance
may vary by race, like

everything else
, any suggestion that minorities have
either a

higher or a lower pain tolerance
than white people
has always been treated as racist. If anyone said, the
way (male,
white
) doctors said in the nineteenth century, that

"primitive people"
suffer less in childbirth,
because they`re, well, primitive, I don`t think the
Dallas Morning News
would approve of that!

Jacobson`s
article went on to highlight some of the complexities
that plague the daily operations and stretch the
financial resources of Parkland.


`A recent
patient survey indicated that 70 percent of the women
who

gave birth
at Parkland in the first three months of
2006 were illegal immigrants.`

Crikey, that`s 11,200 anchor babies born every year…just
in Dallas
.

According
to the article, the hospital spent $70.7 million
delivering 15,938 babies in 2004 but managed to end up
with almost $8 million dollars in surplus funding.

Medicaid
kicked in $34.5 million,

Dallas County taxpayers
kicked in $31.3 million and
the feds tossed in another $9.5 million.

From the same article:


`The average patient
in Parkland`s maternity wards is 25 years old, married
and giving birth to her second child.`

She is also

an illegal immigrant.

By
law, pregnant women cannot be denied medical care based
on their immigration status or ability to pay…ok, fine.

But
that doesn`t mean they should

receive better care
than everyday,
middle-class American citizens.

But
at Parkland Hospital, they do.

Parkland Memorial Hospital has nine prenatal clinics…nine.

The
Dallas Morning News article followed a

Hispanic woman
who was a patient at one of the
clinics and

pregnant with her third child
—her previous two were
also born at Parkland.

(And
out in front of the clinic, a group of

day laborers
waited to be picked up for

local jobs
.)

Her
first two deliveries were free and the Mexican native
was grateful because it would have cost $200 to have
them in Mexico.

This
time, the hospital wants her to pay $10 per visit and
$100 for the delivery but she was unsure if she could
come up with the money.

Not
that it matters, the hospital won`t turn her away.

(I
wonder why they even bother asking at this point…)

How
long has this been going on? What are the long-term
affects?

Well,
another subject of the article was born at Parkland in
1986 shortly after her mother entered the U.S.
illegally—now she is having her child there as well. 

(That`s right…she`s

technically

a U.S. citizen.)

These
women receive free prenatal care including medication,
nutrition, birthing classes and child care classes.

They
also get freebies such as

car seats
, bottles, diapers and formula.

Most
of these things are available to American citizens as
well but only low-income applicants and even then, the
red tape involved is almost insurmountable.

Because these women are illegal immigrants they do not
have to provide any sort of

legitimate identification
—no proof of income.

An
American citizen would have to provide a

social security number
which would reveal their
annual income—an illegal immigrant need only claim
to be poor and the hospital must take them at their
word.

Ok,
my husband is a pilot for the

United States Navy
(yes, he fought in

Iraq
) and while the health care is good, we

Navy wives
don`t get any of these perks! 

Car
seats? Diapers? Not so much…

So my
question is this: Does our public medical care system
treat illegal immigrants better than American citizens?

Yes
it does!

As I
mentioned, the care I have received is perfectly
adequate but it`s

bare bones, meat and potato medical care
—not top of
line.

How
about the fact their medical care is free…simply
because they are illegal immigrants? Once again, there
is no way to verify their income.

Parkland Hospital offers indigent care to Dallas County
residents who earn less than $40,000 per year.

(They
also have to prove that they did not refuse health
coverage at their current job…yeah, the

`free`
care is not so easy for Americans.)

The
hospital has decided that fraud is out-of-control among
this group and is sticking it to them.

There
are about 140 patients who received roughly $4 million
dollars for un-reimbursed medical care.  As it turns
out, they did not qualify for free treatment because
they resided outside of Dallas County.

So
the hospital is going to sue them!

Yeah,
outside of Dallas County but at least they still
lived in Texas!

How
stupid is this?

If
you`re an American citizen but do not reside in Dallas
County, you`re screwed.  If you`re an

illegal alien,
you`re safe as a kitten!

Dallas County Commissioner

Kenneth Mayfield
had this to say:


`This has
been going on for far too long with no consequences,`

he said. `They think Parkland is free. We want to get
that out of people`s minds.`

He
also said,

“It`s
just not right,` Mr. Mayfield said. `These people are
stealing from Dallas County taxpayers.“ [
Parkland
pursues patients who lied to get free care
,

Dallas hospital aims to recoup millions from
out-of-county residents, By Kevin Krause And Sherry
Jacobson, Dallas Morning News

,July
24, 2006]


WHAT
ABOUT THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, MR. MAYFIELD????

Well,
the hospital is going to tackle that

zillion-dollar problem
as well…but it still refuses
to go after the illegal immigrants.

Instead, Parkland Memorial Hospital plans to the send
bills to the various countries from which the illegal
immigrants came.

Of
the $27 million dollars not reimbursed by the feds, 90%
can be attributed to

illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Mexican officials are already whining about
discrimination
, of course. [
Dallas
Hospital Bills Mexico for Illegals Services
July
10, 2006]

As if
that isn`t annoying enough, the illegal immigrant
patients are actually complaining about hospital staff
not speaking Spanish: [
Translate:
Donde esta el hospital?

By
Sonia Moghe, AP 7/27/06]

In this AP story, the author speaks with a woman who is
upset that she had to translate comments from the
hospital staff into Spanish for her husband.

Apparently, their daughter was born sick and was dying. 
The doctor was trying to explain the situation to the
family and the mother was forced to translate for her
husband who only spoke Spanish.

This was

apparently a great injustice.

In an attempt to create a

Spanish-speaking staff
, Parkland Hospital is now
providing incentives in the form of extra pay for
applicants who speak Spanish.

Additionally,

medical students
at the University of Texas
Southwestern for which Parkland Hospital is the training
facility will now have a

Spanish language requirement
added to their already
jammed-packed curriculum.

No other school in the country boasts such a ridiculous
multi-semester requirement.

But remember, the maternity ward at Parkland Memorial
Hospital had an $8 million dollar surplus in spite of
the 70%

illegal immigrant patient load

Maybe hospitals are better off treating illegal aliens
than Americans—the

feds are clearly willing to pick up the tab for the
former
…at least at Parkland.

This might explain why illegal immigrants get better
medical care than Americans!

In the meantime, I have to end my column here…

I
have to go buy a car seat.


Bryanna Bevens [email
her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff
for a member of the California State Assembly.