Illegal Aliens and American Medicine - The seen and the unseen

By Madeline Pelner Cosman, Ph.D., J.D.
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 25, Number 2 (Winter 2015)
Issue theme: "Vanishing resources"
http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc_25_2/tsc_25_2_cosman.shtml


Summary:
Dr. Cosman (December 4, 1937-March 2, 2006) was a medical lawyer who taught medical students at the City College of New York, testified before Congress, and wrote 15 books.



The influx of illegal aliens has serious hidden medical consequences. We judge reality primarily by what we see. But what we do not see can be more dangerous, more expensive, and more deadly than what is seen.

Illegal aliens’ stealthy assaults on medicine now must rouse Americans to alert and alarm. Even [the President] describes illegal aliens only as they are seen: strong physical laborers who work hard in undesirable jobs with low wages, who care for their families, and who pursue the American dream.

What is unseen is their free medical care that has degraded and closed some of America’s finest emergency medical facilities, and caused hospital bankruptcies: 84 California hospitals are closing their doors. “Anchor babies” born to illegal aliens instantly qualify as citizens for welfare benefits and have caused enormous rises in Medicaid costs and stipends under Supplemental Security Income and Disability Income.

What is seen is the illegal alien who with strong back may cough, sweat, and bleed, but is assumed healthy even though he and his illegal alien wife and children were never examined for contagious diseases.

By default, we grant health passes to illegal aliens. Yet many illegal aliens harbor fatal diseases that American medicine fought and vanquished long ago, such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, bubonic plague, polio, dengue fever, and Chagas disease.

What is seen is the political statistic that 43 million lives are at risk in America because of lack of medical insurance. What is unseen is that medical insurance does not equal medical care. Uninsured people receive medical care in hospital emergency departments (EDs) under the coercive Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1985 (EMTALA), which obligates hospitals to treat the uninsured but does not pay for that care. Also unseen is the percentage of the uninsured who are illegal aliens. No one knows how many illegal aliens reside in America. ■

[Excerpted from, “Illegal Aliens and American Medicine,” Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Vol. 10, No. 1, Spring 2005, pp. 6-10. Dr. Cosman (December 4, 1937-March 2, 2006) was a medical lawyer who taught medical students at the City College of New York, testified before Congress, and wrote 15 books.]

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