Laying the Blame

Two years ago, I got home from a rather arduous kung fu class and suddenly felt a sharp, stabbing pain in my chest.  I knew it wasn’t a heart attack by the quality of the pain.  I figured if I just laid down and rested, it would go away, but it only seemed to make it worse.  With every move and every breath I felt like my left lung was being ripped out through my ribs.  It was worse than separating my ribs from my sternum.  After a few hours of this, I finally decided to go to the hospital.  I walked into Banner Good Samaritan in downtown Phoenix apparently looking like a stiff wind would’ve knocked me down; the nurse at the desk looked at me as though she feared I was about to keel over.  I was rushed back to a room where I was immediately set up with an IV, blood was drawn, and my immediate signs and symptoms were jotted down.  An x-ray machine was brought in so I didn’t have to move.  Then, as I was laying there hoping for painkillers, an administrative clerk came in and apologetically said, “I’m sorry, but we have to get some kind of payment from you now.  I know you have insurance, but even if it’s just twenty bucks I have to get something.”

Back in 1977, Jimmy Carter pushed and passed the Community Reinvestment Act, a law that required banks to stop “discriminating” against people on public assistance or living in certain neighborhoods; worst of all, it required banks to take on a certain amount of risky debt, giving not only lines of credit but mortgages to people who had no business having them on properties in dangerous areas.  This created a housing bubble; by requiring banks to take risks on mortgages for homes that had low value due to their condition and location, they were basically requiring all creditors to throw money away.  Banks then end up with property that they can’t sell to anyone above the scum-sucking slumlord level, and have to jack up their rates on everyone else to compensate.

Over time, this got worse.  The bubble got bigger over a period of time; when Bill Clinton expanded the Community Reinvestment Act, it required banks to specifically market to high-risk clients, including illegal immigrants.  This, for me, is what sped up the process of our economic meltdown.

Illegal immigrants are the source of a great many problems right now.  Back in the 80’s, Reagan offered a blanket pardon that gave amnesty to the estimated 3-5 million illegals in America, and the floodgates opened.  Suddenly, everyone said, “hey, they’ll just pardon us…if we keep going in big numbers, they’ll never be able to get rid of us!  Let’s all go to America, they don’t enforce the law there!”  Identity theft quickly became a very popular crime, not only because they needed identities but because law enforcement was behind on it.  Some of them simply made up identities and they started getting mortgages, credit cards and auto loans.  It didn’t take long for these loans to start going bad–and in many cases, they couldn’t track down the offenders because there was no true identifying information to be found for them.

While I was laying in the hospital with a clerk asking me for some kind of payment, I thought about how many people had probably walked through their doors with no insurance and no money and still had to be treated.  By law, emergency rooms can’t turn away any patient, regardless of their financial situation.  Consequently ER’s are packed with people who have no real emergency–many of them have a cold or the flu, but they can’t get an appointment with a doctor because they can’t pay for it.  And here in Arizona, a good number of those folks are illegal immigrants.  They speak no English, have no American ID, and often give falsified information on their paperwork to avoid being found and possibly deported.

In those cases, it’s nearly impossible to find the people skipping out on their medical bills and making it worse for the rest of us.  There’s no way to find them when they’re not legal.  In the past month, two upstanding citizens (an on-duty cop en route to an emergency and a straight-A high school student) in Phoenix have been killed by drunk driving illegals who BOTH had multiple outstanding DUI warrants under different aliases.  In neither case has the media asked the question, “why are they still here?”  Instead, they offer bleeding-heart editorials about how it tears up families to deport these leeches on our society.

When the nurse came back in to give me morphine at the doctor’s request–he had determined that I had a bad case of pleurisy and needed to be kept overnight–we talked briefly about the clerk who was required to get some kind of payment from me.  She apologized, saying, “they’re required to do that with everyone now because we’ve had so many…er…’visitors’ to this country skip out on their bills with us.”  I couldn’t speak much, but I replied, “it’s okay, it’s not your fault.  Thank you for helping me.”  Had I failed to pay the remainder of my copay, it would have gone on my credit report and I would have faced all kinds of bill collectors calling me to demand payment.  The illegals?  Well…we can’t find ’em, so they get off scot-free.  Maybe I should go to Mexico and come back illegally so I can get the same deal.

If you want to know why our economy is so bad, first thank Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton’s uber-liberal ideals.  Then look no further than the Spanish-speaking neighbors who say they’re “just here to work.”

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6 thoughts on “Laying the Blame

  1. Just curious. What you posted about Emergency Rooms is not a new problem. It’s been going on for years.

    What is the solution to this? Even without illegal immigration, this problem of people with no insurance is not new. It is not confined to illegal immigrants either.

    Should an ER be allowed to demand cash up front in full? If someone can’t afford to pay then what?

    I am not trying to be confrontational with this. I hear about this problem but I don’t hear about any solutions other than national health care.

    I have solutions but I’d be labeled a Nazi if I spoke of them. But I’ve never been fearful of a good verbal sparring so here goes. If you go to the ER and you don’t have a deadly infectious disease, then get out if you can’t pay. Does the grocery store have to give away free food to people with no money who are hungry? You need food more than you need medical care. You need food every day.

  2. I know it’s not a new problem; it’s just an illustration of the bigger point. But as for the ER problem, I think that if you don’t fit a certain criteria–children with a temp of 104/adults with a temp of 103, symptoms of a serious illness (i.e. chest pain, difficulty breathing, profuse sweating, dehydration, etc) or a serious injury–you should not be admitted in an ER. That’s what urgent care is for.

    The problem is that when you’re dealing with the medical field, it’s not an exact science. Until we pass useful tort reform, none of those things will be enacted because people sue hospitals and doctors at the drop of a hat. There was a woman in New York City who was admitted for a kidney stone and sent home with painkillers after being successfully treated. She developed an infection, a common thing, and she let it go so long that eventually it cut off circulation to her hands and feet. The doctors had to amputate; she’s now suing for $100 million, and she’ll likely win a good portion of that in a settlement.

    Is it fair that she lost her limbs? No. Is it the doctor’s fault? No. Does she deserve to be compensated by the person whose fault it ISN’T? Absolutely not. But that’s the way our system works right now, and until it changes, ER problems will continue to be problems. I agree, we need to change things. I just don’t see it happening.

  3. “It’s an interesting conundrum, isn’t it John in CA?”

    Yes it is. I don’t want people with untreated TB walking the streets and infecting others. At the same time if a gang banger has wasted his life and chances and gets shot up, then I don’t want to pay the million dollar hospital bill he’ll run up.

    Very interesting indeed.

  4. “But as for the ER problem, I think that if you don’t fit a certain criteria–children with a temp of 104/adults with a temp of 103, symptoms of a serious illness (i.e. chest pain, difficulty breathing, profuse sweating, dehydration, etc) or a serious injury–you should not be admitted in an ER. ”

    Works for me.

  5. Mel I agree with you on the deeper issues. I could not agree more. I wish we had any leader with the political will to force real change.

    I’d love it if we could take two states and have one be the Conservative state and the other the Liberal state. Conservatives would live in the Conservative state and vice versa.

    Which state do you think would prosper and which one do you think would crumble?

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