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Doctor: Illegal immigrants not key reason for ER problems

Marguerita, an undocumented citizen from Mexico relaxes at the St.
Joseph Hospital Renal Center in Orange where she receives dialysis
three times a week.

A number of readers have written to suggest that illegal immigrants are the cause of problems detailed in a Times story Wednesday about a coalition of emergency physicians who sued the state for more funds and warned that California's emergency rooms are on the brink of collapse.

We asked Irv Edwards, an emergency room physician who is among the doctors who filed the suit, what role illegal immigrants play in the state's stressed emergency departments. Edwards, a former president of the American College of Emergency Physicians' California chapter, said that although California faces unique challenges because of its population, illegal immigrants are not the primary reason the state's emergency departments are overburdened.

"The population is increasing. The population is aging and becoming sicker, and the number of hospitals that are closing is increasing, leading to greater demand and decreased capacity," Edwards said.

Photo: Marguerita, an undocumented citizen from Mexico relaxes at the St. Joseph Hospital Renal Center in Orange where she receives dialysis three times a week. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles

A study by the Rand Corp., published in the November 2006 issue of Health Affairs, found that undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles County use disproportionately fewer medical services. The study reported that undocumented immigrants make up 12% of the non-elderly adult population, but account for only 6% of the spending.

And those who are insured appear to be driving some of the increase in emergency room use. A survey released in 2006 by the California HealthCare Foundation found that Californians with insurance were overusing emergency services for medical problems "that often fail to meet the criteria for emergent or urgent care."

In California, 18.5% of the population is uninsured and 16% is on Medi-Cal, which helps cover healthcare costs for the poor. The state has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the nation, a rate that has only been increased once in the last 17 years, Edwards said. Illegal immigrants are not eligible for Medi-Cal.

Edwards said a key issue facing emergency rooms has been a lack of in-patient beds for patients who come into the emergency room and then need to be admitted. He cited Mission Community Hospital in the San Fernando Valley -- where emergency room doctors held a news conference Wednesday -- as an example of a typical scenario. The hospital has 120 beds, but on Wednesday, 116 of them were full. As a result, Edwards said the emergency department had become a holding area for patients, further backing up treatment for those waiting.

"In a 20-bed ER at any given time, we sometimes have 10 or 12 beds holding admitted patients, three or four in the hallway and we're seeing volumes of patients in and out inefficiently," Edwards said.

-- Kimi Yoshino

Comments () | Archives (12)

This is BS. I hope the statement "disproportionate" was noticed by everyone. Apparently this doctor thinks illegal aliens should be using services proportionate to their numbers. When you have a population of illegal aliens in the state that number in the millions, I sure hope they don't use the ER in proportionate numbers. If you want to see the impact of illegal aliens on ER's in California, just go to any hospital waiting room and see for yourself. We are overswhelmed by illegal aliens anyway you spin it. ENOUGH!

1986 Amnesty was a COMPLETE failure, because Enforcement was not REALIZED and now we have more ILLEGAL ALIENS than every before!

"in the first year of democratic majority rule, Nelson Mandela’s government expelled almost 60,000 undocumented migrants, most of whom were from neighboring Mozambique. " - President Obamas role model.

"South Africa has shown that a country determined to put its own citizens’ interests first will deport illegal aliens in numbers. Yet its example is ignored by those who say "it can't be done". The answer is: "Yes it can". It can even be done creatively."

We need the SAVE ACT and E-verify used for every business and NOT Amnesty for criminals.

E-verify does not discriminate against RACE, Religion, SEX or physically capability only your Citizenship and your LEGAL right to be and work in United States.

If we can stop Predatory business owners from hiring then the Illegal Aliens will not Stay and return to their native Countries.

This ISSUE is not about RACE, but Governments Federal/State/LOCAL not doing their jobs, because big and small business owners want cheap workers and no labor laws to bother with......Its called GREED!


There's no way of telling how many illegals are using emergency rooms since it is strictly forbidden for anyone to inquire about their immigration status. The deceit of the open-boarder crusaders is absolutely astonishing.

Why does this debate go on and on? Two very compelling reasons;

1. The Republicans want a plentiful supply of cheap labor.
2. The liberals want ever-expanding social service case-loads that will perpetuate dynasties of dependence where the winners are the administrators and not their "clients".

Each side has its own greedy agenda. The taxpayers have repeatedly demanded that government enforce the law and repeatedly government has ignored their requests.

Please allow me to point out the MASSIVE holes in your biased lopsided "research".

""The population is increasing. The population is aging and becoming sicker, and the number of hospitals that are closing is increasing, leading to greater demand and decreased capacity," Edwards said."

As stated in your RAND cop. (a corporate leaning think tank) FOREIGN BORN, illegal and legal now account for a staggering 43% of the adult LA population. That takes into the portion that is based on a guess as to the real number of illegal aliens in LA COUNTY.

That being said, it is a statistical fact that native born Americans are in superior health vs. most foreign born residents of LA county. This being based on life span, infant mortaility, imported third world disease.

You are correct in that Calif. pop. is growing, growing with unchecked illegal and legal foreign immigration the likes of never seen before in the history of the US.

Clearly, for those who can see beyond a reporters SPIN on facts. It is ILLEGAL ALIENS who've placed a unsupportable burden on our Emergency care. They go to the ER for the FLU, for a COLD, for a headach, for a scratch, for some whatever else they feel like it...with out paying ONE PENNY!

You have the audacity to insult LA citizens with the cooked up SPIN. Just WHO do you think pays for the health care and ER visits of MILLIONS of NO TAX paying illegal aliens in Calif.?

You may attempt to dumb down California citizens, but sister...you've got a VERY STEEP mountain to climb.

Our ER's are closing because of the MASSIVE OVER-BURDEN of MILLIONS of ILLEGAL ALIENS in the State of Calif. JUST like our destroyed SCHOOLS!

Your spin is FAKE. Here's a few "studies" that completely refute your false claims.

Better still...have any LA County Citizen walk into an ER ANYWHERE in LA County then tell them they are not over run by ILLEGAL ALIENS.

[iii] Chong, J-R. Hawthorne Hospital to Shut Doors. R.F. Kennedy Medical Center Cites Financial Problems for Closure…Sixth ER in La County This Year. Los Angeles Times, September 24, 2004.

[iv] Wright, CM. SSI: The Black Hole of the Welfare State. Cato Policy Analysis 224, April, 1995.

[v] Peter J. Ferrara’s Social Security: The Inherent Contradiction. Washington: Cato Institute, 1980.

[vi] Lee B. Reichman’s Time Bomb: The Global Epidemic of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis. New York: McGraw Hill Professional, 2001. www.TBtimebomb.com

[vii] Laurie Garrett’s The Coming Plague. New York: Penguin, 1995.

[viii] John Goodman, Gerald Musgrave, Devon Herrick’s Lives at Risk: Single Payer National Health Insurance Around the World. Lanham and New York: National Center for Policy Analysis, Rowman and Littlefield, 2004.

[ix] Cosman MP. Medicare and the Criminalization of American Medicine: 1965-1993. 6:1 National Trial Lawyer (1994).

[x] Turner GM. HIPAA and the Criminalization of American Medicine. 22:1 Cato Journal, Spring/Summer 2002.

[xi] 237 F 3d 1074.

[xii] Arrington v. Wong, 237 F3rd 1066 (9th Cir. January 22, 2001)

[xiii] Roark AC. Surgeon Tires of Effort to Plug Gap in Trauma Care-Hospitals: A doctor on call in emergency rooms. Los Angeles Times, December 23, 1990.

Is that doctor an illegal?

The problem is not only illegals, but also uninsured and under-insured. Blame corporate America.The system is set up to attract uneducated blue collar workers (illegal, undocumented) who will do menial labor for slave wages, which in comparison to wages in their native land are lavish, and pay no benefits, all for the sake of fiduciary duty to their shareholders. It's a win-win for everyone, except working Americans. The laborers get a step up in lifestyle, while the company owners turn a profit. They don't need to worry about health care, because our system will provide it, no matter what.

I also BLAME the LA TIMES for constantly twisting the facts when it comes to ILLEGAL ALIENS....For GOD'S it can't even print the correct OFFICIAL word to describe them!

Every story the Times writes about ILLEGAL ALIENS is SPIN. They couldn't even print the story about High School Student Jamal Shaw properly or the MURDER of the Bolongna family in S.F. until enough readers complained!

The Times has supported this massive invasion of ILLEGAL FOREIGN NATIONALS to the detriment of LA, and California Citizens.

56,000 Americans have been MURDERED or KILLED by ILLEGAL ALIENS since 2001...Heard anything about that in the LA TIMES?

I agree that illegal aliens and their children are a huge burden on the health and education system. In addition to schools having to hire ESL teachers, the hospitals are obligated to hire translators for non-English speakers whether they are legal or not. I am not a against non-citizens working in the US, but it has to be under some kind of guest-worker program where they pay into the education and health care systems and fund their own retirement.

It's amazing how the anti-immigrant loonies always refuse to accept the facts. The reality is that the majority of people using the emergency room are citizens, and people with health insurance. Moreover, most immigrants come to this country in their younger healthy years. Illegal immigrants have contributed more than $400 billion to the Social Security Fund, which is a welfare program for elderly whites. They contribute billions of dollars in taxes to California.

Sure would be nice if all illegals would head for California. There they could get more love and better care.

illegal immigrants ARE eligible for medi-cal! LA Times did an entire article on about it! Its called "delivering dual benefits" and headline says
Medi-Cal spends about $400 million a year on birth-related care for illegal immigrants. Private hospitals gain.

SO please check your facts people...AND journalist Kimi Yoshino. You shouldnt write what Mr. Edwards says as a fact without offering the truth. Bad irresponsible journalism!


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