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Healthcare for Immigrants: A Policy to Benefit Everyone Essay

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Today, the United States faces budget problems at local, state, and national levels. Soon, Congress will vote whether or not to raise the national debt ceiling, hoping to avoid defaults on loans and causing further harm to a slumping economy. While federal budget cuts will have to be made should the ceiling be lifted or not, cuts are also being felt on a local level, even in places like education. While not completely responsible for these problems, there are over 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. Unfortunately, about 59% of them do not have health insurance. With 25% of legal immigrants uninsured, that creates a large population that cannot seek or receive proper medical treatment (Wolf, 2008). Fixing this problem will likely never turn the economy around, but with states making tough budget cuts that affect large numbers of the population, something has to be done about the amount of federal and state dollars that are going toward medical treatment for illegal immigrants.
In 2004, a study showed that California was paying over $1.4 billion annually to cover medical costs for uninsured illegal immigrants. Even states like Colorado and Minnesota were found to be paying out $31 million and $17 million respectively (Wolf, 2008). With no strict national legislation pending regarding this issue, these numbers will likely rise with the influx of more immigrants. From 2001-2004 spending for emergency Medicaid for illegal immigrants rose 28% in North Carolina (Wolf, 2008). Illegals can get emergency care through Medicaid, a program for poor and disabled people, but cannot receive non-emergency care unless they pay; they are ineligible for most other benefits. In 2003, Congress appropriated $1 billion ...


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... receive care without payment must also be avoided. When that
HEALTHCARE FOR IMMIGRANTS 8
money comes from state budgets by the millions of dollars, it causes problems in already tight budgets.
A policy must be adopted that makes treatment available and affordable, guides patients to the right health care providers, fails to put the financial burden on taxpayers, and allows ailing people to receive care as a basic human right. That will require tough decisions and significant compromises from all those with something at stake. Still, a new policy would be better than any alternatives, including staying with the current system. This country cannot continue to pay big dollars concerning health care for immigrants when cuts are being made to local and national budgets.



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