Debates in Arizona are heating up once again. The topic, as usual, is illegal immigration and a proposed puzzle piece that would contribute to solving the issue. The bills that have passed through the Arizona legislature into law to date, among them SB1070, the English only law, SB1183 (bilingual accommodation), and the employer sanctions law, have proven to be effective.
At the center of the debate currently is SB1045 (http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/50leg/1r/bills/sb1405p.pdf). The bill is short and to the point. When hospitals treat a person for a non-emergency and that person is suspected to be in the country illegally (i.e. lack of legal identification, no insurance, can’t speak the language) the bill would require them to contact law enforcement agencies. There is an opinion that this bill would require doctors and nurses to act as immigration officers and “criminalize” going to the hospital for a medical emergency or for something as silly as the common cold.
When a patient enters a hospital emergency room and steps to the triage desk, the first thing they are asked is why they are there. Next, what is your name. Then the triage nurse is required to ask for insurance so the hospital knows who they are billing (and to check if you have coverage and how much coverage). If you are in the country illegally, chances are you have no insurance and the state will be picking up the tab for the doctor to give you two aspirin and call him in the morning.
If hospitals are also business entities that need to generate income in order to operate (isn’t that the reason they give for charging, in some cases, $400 or more for a visit that used to take an hour or two, but now with increased usage of the emergency room for non-emergencies can take 4 or more hours. And thats if you are lucky, and its a slow time.), don’t they want to know who will be paying for their services? And as the payer of those services, are the taxpayers’ via the state, not entitled to know who they are providing services to? By the same token, if the taxpayer via the state via social services is paying the bill, shouldn’t the taxpayer also have a say in who they provide services to?
This bill is not criminal in the least. The fact that we have people coming illegally across our border, and not abiding by the laws we have established is criminal. Doctors and nurses already spend more time handling administrative paperwork for legal citizens of Arizona, and right now, they are only required to verify payment, not verify if people are illegally in this country. The bill doesn’t state that a person in the country illegally would not receive treatment, and there are provisions for cases where its an emergency (car accident, heart attack, and other life threatening injuries).
Arizona is having difficulty balancing its budget, and everyone knows healthcare costs are going up this year due to the passage of Obamacare. Some ways of trying to minimize costs in the past have been establishing urgent care centers, companies include triage services for employees to call before going to the emergency room(McKesson is one such company), and Walgreens Pharmacies now have triage nurses on staff for the silly things like colds and flu shots. Illegal aliens choose not to utilize these services mainly because they require cash payment from uninsured patients, whereas emergency rooms require no out of pocket cost, and the bill is sent straight to the taxpayer through various channels.
Sheriff Joe, in an article on www.foxnews.com by L.A. Holmes, hits the nail on the head, “We have a big problem in Arizona with illegal immigration. Thousands are coming through our area into other areas in the United States, so it is a big problem, and we’re taking it on full force.”