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The Sinking Lifeboat: Uncontrolled Immigration and the U.S. Health Care System in 2009

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A new report is out by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) called The Sinking Lifeboat: Uncontrolled Immigration and the U.S. Health Care System in 2009. In it is detailed the impact that immigration is having on the costs on health care imposed by immigration into the United States. Of note is their point that 425,000 births per year in the United States - 1 in 10 - is currently to an illegal alien mother.

Below is the Executive Summary, the full report can be found here (PDF)


America’s health care system is in crisis: Costs and insurance premiums are skyrocketing and the number of the uninsured is rising rapidly as millions of Americans have lost their jobs. Providers are reducing staffing and services and increasing rates, and hospitals are closing or facing bankruptcy. Into this deteriorating situation, the Obama Administration is boldly striding in an effort to extend medical insurance more widely to the uninsured. A key issue is the cost of the expansion, and that cost will be greatly influenced by the amount of coverage that becomes available to immigrants, including illegal aliens and their children—a sizable portion of the uninsured.

The President and members of Congress have spoken extensively about the crisis in health care, but what they have ignored is the role immigration has played in driving up the number of uninsured and the rising cost of health care for native-born Americans.

As states grapple with current budget deficits, they are cutting their health care budgets to try to make ends meet. But they are limited by current legislation from making certain cutbacks in emergency medical care that would ease some of the strain that is caused by the high level of immigrant usage, especially by illegal aliens.

What is most frustrating to the public, federal state and local governments refuse to collect the information that would expose just how expensive health care to immigrants actually is, and how the quality and availability of health care to American citizens is suffering because of it.


  • Between 1989 and 2007, immigrants and their U.S.-born children accounted for 71 percent of the increase in the uninsured.
  • Today, more than one out of every four uninsured U.S. residents is an immigrant.
  • There are 14.5 million immigrants and their U.S.-born children without health insurance, 32 percent of the uninsured.
  • The foreign-born make up 27 percent of the uninsured population in the U.S.
  • 48 percent of immigrants and their children are either uninsured or depend on Medicaid.
  • Approximately 65 percent of illegal aliens in the U.S. are uninsured.
  • In some hospitals, as much as two-thirds of total operating costs are for uncompensated care for illegal aliens.
  • 425,000 births a year in the U.S.—more than 1 in every 10 births—is to an illegal alien mother.
  • Although a national total of annual unreimbursed medical expenses for illegal aliens is not available, it is likely that those costs are more than $10.5 billion.

Federal laws requiring hospitals to treat anyone who enters an emergency room regardless of ability to pay have created an unfunded mandate. States and localities may not deny emergency care to the uninsured regardless of immigration status. The problem of emergency care has grown to enormous proportions because the lack of enforcement of federal laws against illegal immigration has led to a pool of 13 million illegal aliens in the U.S.—and state and local taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill. Although immigration law enforcement is a federal responsibility, most hospitals receive little or no reimbursement for the care to immigrants that the federal government mandates that they provide. Although there was legislation passed in 2005 to reimburse hospitals that provide emergency care for illegal aliens, the funds appropriated proved to be woefully inadequate, and that appropriation has since expired.

  • Lack of insurance leads many immigrants to use hospital emergency departments—the most expensive source of health care—as their primary care provider. This leads to overcrowded conditions for citizens who seek emergency care. Nationwide, emergency room visits increased by 36 percent from 1996 to 2006.The problem has become so out of control thatMexican ambulance companies are being allowed to drive uninsured patients across the U.S. border to receive free treatment.
  • Many illegal aliens are taking advantage of legislation that requires emergency rooms to treat all patients, regardless of ability or intent to pay for the treatment. The cost of uncompensated care to taxpayers and insured patients continues to rise. Uncompensated costs has caused some hospitals to reduce staff, increase rates, cut back services, and close maternity wards and trauma centers.

The escalating burden incurred by hospitals and other health facilities for the uncompensated treatment of aliens is driven both by rampant illegal immigration and a legal immigration system that allows large numbers of foreigners to gain legal residence despite the fact that they are unlikely to be working in jobs with health care coverage or have personal resources sufficient to pay for health services. They are currently ineligible for Medicaid for the first five years after admission, so they, like illegal aliens, may resort to using emergency rooms. Furthermore, the sponsorship requirement for legal immigrants—intended to prevent immigrants from being a burden on the American taxpayer—is simply not enforced by the federal government.

The federal government had been providing a limited reimbursement of the outlays caused by uncompensated medical services provided to illegal aliens. Under Section 1011 of the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), $1 billion was appropriated for distribution over the four-year period ending in fiscal year 2008. However, the $250 million annual distribution has not come close to meeting the costs, as will be shown.

There is no current effort to reauthorize funds for the reimbursement of uncompensated care. The plan of the Obama Administration and the congressional leadership is to cover illegal aliens under a taxpayer funded health care plan. In its present form, the proposed health care reform legislation has no provisions that will prevent illegal aliens access to taxpayer funded health care. Congress so far has rejected provisions that would prevent those in the country illegally from being covered at public expense.

Reversing the escalating burden of uncompensated health care for immigrants and illegal aliens will necessitate true immigration reform. That will include:

  • enforcing laws against illegal immigration
  • reimbursing states and localities for the costs of failures in federal immigration policy, but conditioned on cooperation with federal efforts to combat illegal immigration;
  • identifying foreign users of publicly funded medical treatment (and their immigration status);
  • establishing guarantees of medical insurance prior to admission to the country;
  • clarifying existing federal emergency service laws regarding the termination of a hospital’s obligation for continuing care after the provision of emergency treatment to stabilize the patient.

It will also require a change in public officials’ mindset: Instead of shifting the burden to local taxpayers (often to those least able to pay when confronted with rising insurance premiums and medical bills), lawmakers must squarely face the consequences of immigration policy decisions. Our immigration system must be made consistent with U.S. national needs and priorities.

Yet quite the opposite is occurring. At a time when the country is struggling to provide affordable care to millions of uninsured citizens, President Obama’s priorities include the permanent incorporation of the millions of illegal aliens currently in the country through an amnesty that he terms a “pathway to citizenship.”

Read the full Sinking Lifeboat report

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Posted by Digger on September 17, 2009 10:13 AM (Permalink)

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Its time to re-examine instant citizenship (Anchor babies) which hasn't been illuminated enough, to growing concern of the American public. For decades now pregnant women have arrived on tourist’s visas, through the fence and even at ports of call. Very aware of our mis-interpreted law governing "birthright citizenship", that attributes full rights to the Mother of an illegal immigrant. How can Americans benefit from this Health care reform package, when we must subsidize millions of households and not just the original interloper? Outlined in the spring issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is an article that will stun a prudent person. An illegal alien entered the states in 1997 to work as a fruit picker, bringing with him his wife and three children; all illegal aliens.

The lady gave birth to a fourth child, and with that birth the family had an "anchor baby"—an American citizen by birth, who provided the entire family with a free pass to remain in the United States permanently and collect government, subsides. Unfortunately the baby was born prematurely, spent three months in the neonatal incubator, and cost the San Joaquin Hospital more than $300,000. Meanwhile, the oldest daughter married an illegal alien and gave birth to her own anchor baby, and then Cristobal’s wife gave birth to yet another baby. ALL PAID FOR BY—YOU!

This is just one taxpayer example of the 'Rule of law' that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars. A nurse admitted last weekend, according to Review-Journal reported that cash-strapped UMC hospital in Nevada is providing more than $20 million a year in emergency dialysis care for uninsured, illegal immigrants. Is American society insane when poverty stricken Americans are turned away, go bankrupt and sometimes die? TAXPAYERS ARE TAXED FOR THIS, BUT NOT FOR OUR OWN PEOPLE? We must insist that a Birthright Citizenship lawsuit be filed with the federal court and its original intent revisited? That E-Verify should be fully funded and a highly skilled MIT team, building on the original Immigration enforcement database to a highest level of security that cannot be compromised by the use of fraudulent documents.

The PC oriented application must be installed permanently on every business computer across this country? ICE should have the manpower to audit every workplace, with the power to arrest and detain employers who snub immigration laws? Repeat offenders should be dealt with harshly, including prison and confiscation of business assets. There should be no mitigating excuses because illegal immigrants are—STEALING JOBS-- on any rung of the employment ladder? These employers for years have been an intended magnet for destitute labor in many cases, but have left the burden of paying for schooling for the children, health care and a veiled miscellaneous core of government handouts to US taxpayers. THIS IS NOT ABOUT RACISM, BUT AN ULTIMATE FINANCIAL MATTER OF SURVIVAL FOR US ALL!

Insist your politicians guarantee E-Verify is fully funded and is not scuttled by Sen. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Janet Napolitano or any other high ranking Democrats. The Washington switchboard has their number at 202-224-3121. Research these laws, true facts and incredulous stats at NUMBERSUSA & JUDICIAL WATCH

Posted by: Brittancus on September 17, 2009 02:13 PM

Also see these other great immigration resources

The Dark Side Of Illegal Immigration
The Dark Side Of Illegal Immigration

A 28 part detailed report on the negative impacts of illegal immigration.
Immigration Stance
Immigration Stance

Find out how your members of Congress voted on immigration issues.

The Dark Side Of Illegal Immigration
Read the free 28 part report The Dark Side of
Illegal Immigration

Includes facts, figures
and statistics.

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