A Political Hoedown Special Edition
Disclaimer: The opinions of Hooper McFinney are his own, and do not reflect yours, so don't worry. You won't get a mild case of intolerance from reading the following.
I read an interesting article in today's Chicago Tribune (credited to the LA Times, by Anna Gorman): "Illegal immigrant's case raises transplant issues." Ana Puente, the article tells us, is waiting for her fourth liver transplant. She received her first as an infant and other two in 1989 and 1998, all at UCLA Medical Center. The "approximate cost for a liver transplant and first-year follow-up," according to the article, is $490,000.
Ana is also an illegal immigrant. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?
To preface, I am not a heartless monster who thinks a child in need should be denied care. We need medical safety nets in place to make sure that children of all stripes are provided with responsible pediatric attention. I'd of course argue that the children of the wealthy deserve the coverage, but shouldn't be eligible, just like the requirements certain schools have regarding scholarships. The redistribution of wealth, as some Democrats might say, to the youth of this country is a finer thing than broad welfare spending on able-bodied adults. I digress, though.
What we're faced with is slap in the face, a people - and yes, I will stereotype and generalize, and to be sure, I'm talking about illegal Hispanic immigrants - full of a skewed sense of entitlement. Puente was quoted as saying, "It doesn't matter if I'm undocumented...they should take care of me at UCLA for the rest of my life because I've been there since I was a baby."
The waiting list for liver transplants in California alone is 3,700 people long, and only 767 transplants were performed in 2007. As many as 75 of those were for non-US citizens, the number for illegals unavailable.
We have a health care crisis in our country, no one denies it. People go without or with too little because of insurance, medicinal availability or full patient dockets at public hospitals. While the crisis is not necessarily widespread, it is still pervasive and threatens millions of people with, at the least, inadequate care. Why then are we so eager to give our services, our time, our tax dollars and our medicine to people who have violated federal law to be here?
I understand the "people are people" argument put forward by Dr. Michael Shapiro. "When you make an incision in an organ donor, you don't find little American flags planted on their organs." If you come to this country legally and get placed on a donor list, but your citizenship status is Iranian, you shouldn't be denied because you aren't a US citizen. But you're here legally, you went through the right channels; you didn't swim under them.
The executive director of NumbersUSA, Roy Beck, was right when he said transplants are about rationing. It's a needs-based system, but one that should also have built in it a legality component for those competent enough to seek their own health care. Basically, if you are in your twenties, like the two illegal immigrants in the article who are awaiting further transplants, there's a reason you're kicked off the state health care bill. You are old enough to make any decision you want, and perhaps the first one is to go home.
Home being, in these cases, Mexico. Seek its donor lists, wait with your countrymen, allow our citizens who paid for your livers - plural - to get one of their own, because they deserve it more than you. I know you couldn't choose where you were born, that those of us in the US don't realize how good we have it. It's a foregone conclusion!
But if you want to stay here, to take our benefits without putting anything else in the pot, how dare you demand our service.
Jose Lopez, the other illegal 20-year-old in the article awaiting another transplant, said, "You can't just leave a person to die. That's pretty much what they're telling me: 'You're illegally here. We're just gonna let you die.'"
Damn you for placing that burden on us! For putting the responsibility of your life at our feet! The sword of human dignity cuts both ways. If you want to live, don't say it's our ethical imperative to provide that life; man up! Run back across the border, apply for a worker visa, for citizenship or stay there and use your own nation's health care system.
It is not the responsibility of the United States to care for the world. I'm no isolationist, but on this there can be no argument. We have to order our own house, heal our own people who are in dire straights. The plight of a Mexican child with a bum kidney or livery might be heart-rending to hear, but if it's the difference between them and the child of an Ohio steelworker, or a Dakotan farmer or a Maine fisherman, there's no choice. I place us before them.
"Selfish" easily describes that action, but it's a small word for this, and makes the action small by relation. But this isn't a kid in a playground pouting and taking his ball home; it has to do with protecting the health, welfare and future of a whole nation. The more we allow programs like Medi-Cal, which seems to be a loophole program letting illegals get medical service at the cost of the state, to prosper, the less service we offer our own.
Think of it this way. Ana Puente, conservatively, has cost the state of California at least $1,000,000 (unadjusted) over the last two decades, Jose Lopez a little less. These two - just two - illegal immigrants by the end of the year, if all goes to plan, will have spent over $2,500,000 overall in California-taxpayer money by manipulating the structure of state health care systems. Illegal immigrants, mind you.
California has a program set up to provide quality health services for the poor, exactly who need the benefit. Medi-Cal in theory is great, but in at least this instance tragically flawed if it allows the downtrodden of our country to be beaten into the dust even more by those flagrantly ignoring federal law to seek our superior medical capabilities. Medical service that should be intended for the truly less fortunate of our country, not Felipe Calderon's or Alvaro Colom Caballeros' or Antonio Saca's.
I get frustrated with people who demand we treat the 12 million illegals as though they were already citizens when we have our own citizens dying from lack of the same medicine these illegals are utilizing. The economic benefit of cheap, head-down-cash-only labor does not outweigh the suffering of our own people. Again, it's a sense of entitlement, that because we are the "land of the free," that means it's free for any to walk all over and abuse.
Some argue it's our Christian duty to provide this much-needed care to the "undocumented," but not all taxpayers are Christian. If an organization independent of our state, local and federal governments wants to provide funding in a private clinic setting for illegal workers at no cost to the taxpayers, or detriment to poor US citizens, more power to them. That's one great thing about our country, the amount of private giving. Our charities do a great job complementing Federal programs and aid. Let's have them take a larger role.
But I do not see how, in clear conscience, we can continue to provide medical benefits to illegals above and beyond what we give our own citizens.
The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine's ethics department chair, Arthur Caplan, stated, "Physicians and institutions do have a duty to these patients once they transplanted them. . . . Insurance running out is no excuse for abandoning them." The latter statement is correct, but greater need is an excuse. The need of our own sick and dying.
How can we lead the world, like all politicians preach we will if only you vote for them, if our own country has its very foundations crumbling due to disease and avoidable medical calamity?
Thursday, April 17, 2008
A Political Hoedown Special Edition