Archive for the “Health care” Category

The bill hasn’t become law, but I can already hear the stampede of illegal aliens coming to California for free health care.

Schwarzenegger wants to get the deal passed before the capital is consumed by the budget mess. He said Friday that the deficit could be as high as $14 billion, and that he intends to declare a fiscal emergency in January to deal with it.

SF Gate

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez have agreed on most aspects of a $14 billion health reform measure that would expand coverage to nearly 3.6 million uninsured Californians and force nearly everyone to buy health insurance.

A few details remain to be settled, such as the dollar amount of a tobacco tax to help finance the deal.

But the two have agreed on most aspects of the bill, including a sliding scale fee for employers, ranging from 1 percent of payroll to 6.5 percent of payroll, depending on the size of the company. There will also be a cigarette tax of either $1.50 or $2 a pack, both sides said.

Aides were still writing the bill Friday, but Nunez, D-Los Angeles, said the Assembly will take it up on Monday.

It was not clear when the Senate would take up the bill. Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, said Thursday that while he supported the reform proposal, he was reluctant to adopt new health care programs at a time when Schwarzenegger was calling for cuts to existing ones because of the swelling budget deficit. He also criticized a tobacco tax as a “lousy” funding source.

Schwarzenegger wants to get the deal passed before the capital is consumed by the budget mess. He said Friday that the deficit could be as high as $14 billion, and that he intends to declare a fiscal emergency in January to deal with it.

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SF Gate

SAN FRANCISCO — One year after the Bush administration promised to streamline a process to allow people with HIV infection to visit the United States despite a congressionally mandated travel ban, critics are saying that the proposed new rules are more restrictive than the old ones.

Laws dating back to the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the United States forbid issuance of visas to foreigners infected with HIV, but allow exceptions through a cumbersome waiver process that has been denounced as slow, arbitrary and unfair. In December 2006, President Bush asked for new administrative rules to speed up the granting of such waivers.

Opportunities for the public to comment on the regulations, which took 11 months to craft, expire Thursday, and opponents are using the deadline to criticize the suggested changes as well as the entire notion that people infected with the AIDS virus need special visas to visit the country.

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The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston may soon close its doors to poor illegal immigrants who need cancer care, a move that could increase the patient load in Harris County.

The medical school, unable to meet the demand for cancer care by indigent patients with limited state funds, is considering a policy that would require patients to prove they’re here legally to qualify for financial assistance. That would save the hospital system money but contradict its mission of providing care for the poor.

All hospitals, both public and private, are required to treat emergency-room patients, regardless of whether they’re insured or qualify for Medicaid. That requirement is straining hospitals across the country, and some have closed because of financial losses from treating the uninsured.

It’s also unusual for hospitals, particularly public ones, to turn away patients who need non-emergency care, although they’re not required by law to treat them. But some facilities, including one in Fort Worth, now deny indigent patients who can’t prove they’re here legally as a cost-cutting measure.

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Washington Times

The revised children’s health insurance bill that Congress is about to send to President Bush still has loopholes that both illegal aliens and ineligible legal immigrants could exploit to join the program, a new Heritage Foundation analysis shows.

Under the bill, those applying for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program would not have to prove citizenship. Instead, they only would have to provide a valid Social Security number ? something most legal immigrants and many illegal aliens already have, said Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, whose analysis is being released today.

‘If you’re illegal, you’re going to have to come with a valid but bogus Social Security number. If you’re a legal permanent resident, you have a Social Security number, it’s just a piece of cake for you to walk in,’ Mr. Rector said.

He said the SCHIP bill that Congress passed would undo the 1996 welfare policy that restricted most public benefits to legal immigrants who have been in the country for at least five years. The new bill doesn’t change that requirement, but only requires states to ask for a Social Security number, which Mr. Rector said means ineligible immigrants could sign up.

‘You couldn’t be clearer in their saying, ‘We really don’t care about that five-year time period,’ ‘ he said.

Illegal aliens who have stolen a valid Social Security number could also join, he said.

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Of America’s 39 million immigrants, representing 12.6% of our total population, at least 12 million are illegal. Most, but not all, come from Mexico and Central America.

What exactly do the numbers mean? Well, for one thing, they mean we’re importing a lot of poverty ? and it’s skewing the debate over key public policy issues.

How often, for example, have we been hit over the head with the scary statistic that “48 million Americans don’t have health insurance.” But the statement is only partly true.

According to CIS, 34% of all immigrant households ? or 13.3 million ? don’t have health insurance. And of those, 8.3 million are here illegally. They make up 18% of the nation’s uninsured, if you count their American-born children.

The crisis of the uninsured, in other words, is in significant part an imported one ? one that is costing untold billions.

That flies in the face of at least one widely reported recent study that claimed the U.S. spends only $1 billion on the uninsured. Even assuming that illegals use only half the health-care resources per person as the rest of the country, the total is more like $30 billion.

CIS also reckons that immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 71% of the increase in the uninsured since 1989 ? a fact that usually goes unremarked upon in the debate over health-care reform.

In addition, 59% of the illegal population and their children are at or near poverty. That comes to 8.7 million people, and compares with 19% of native households.

This translates into higher use of welfare. Nationwide, 40% of all households headed by illegal aliens use one or more major welfare programs. The share in cash programs is actually quite small ? less than 1%. But 33% of all illegal households get food aid, and another 27% are on Medicaid.

Again, this means billions spent each year ? and that doesn’t include the growing costs associated with jailing and policing illegals who have turned to crime or gangs.

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Chicago Tribune

For that small, but apparently growing segment of Mexican invaders who raise chickens in the back yard, the news Tuesday decidedly was not good: your goose is just about cooked.

The City Council’s Health Committee advanced a proposal to outlaw the keeping of hens and roosters in residential areas, and the measure is expected to become law at next month’s council meeting.

Ald. Lona Lane (18th), lead sponsor of the proposed prohibition, said she knows of three recent cases of chicken-keeping in her Southwest Side ward, none of them pleasant.

People “are leaving them in their back yards and feeding them in the back yards,” Lane said. “The stench and the smell from their feathers and their bodies - and they are not clean … Their debris and their waste are creating more rodents than there already are in neighborhoods.”

Not only that, Lane said. A woman in her ward told her about what went on in a house, now boarded up, on West 83rd Street.

“They were doing this ritual where they would take the chicken and cut the head off. The chicken was running around without a head in their home, and they would smear the blood.”

Ald. Joann Thompson (16th) said she was driving down the street in her ward a few months ago when she was surprised to spot a rooster, which she found out was someone’s pet.

“I said, ‘If it’s your pet, get it and take it in the house,’” Thompson said. “They couldn’t even catch the rooster. They were scared to take it back to the house.”

Chicken-keeping “is more common than you would think,” said Ald. George Cardenas (12th). In parts of his ward, immigrants from rural areas of Mexico keep the birds, he said.

Maria Rolon used to keep two chickens and two roosters in her Little Village back yard because they reminded her of Puerto Rico. “The chickens sang,” Rolon said through a translator. “It made you feel like you were in the countryside.”

But Rolon said she gave her chickens away months ago after the garbage collectors threatened to report her. A pair of the birds went to her uncle - who ate them.

Chicken reports have come in from all areas of the city, not just those where new arrivals live, according to the city’s Animal Care and Control Commission.

So far this year, the commission has gotten 717 gripes about roosters and their loud crowing and an additional 65 general “nuisance complaints about chickens,” reported Anne Kent, the commission’s executive director.

Ellen Clark, an animal control officer, said she “got 10 [calls] last night.”

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SF Gate

Francisco Castaneda says he spent more than 10 months in immigration jails in Southern California pleading for medical help as lesions on his penis grew larger and more painful, but the government’s only response was to free him before it had to pay for a scheduled biopsy.

The 35-year-old Salvadoran native, who entered the United States illegally with his mother when he was 10, now says he has terminal cancer that would have been prevented by proper treatment. His cancer was diagnosed immediately after his release from federal custody in February, and his penis was amputated before he began chemotherapy.

Immigration officials are still seeking to deport him, but Castaneda’s lawyers say he will probably die before his case is resolved.

On Wednesday, Castaneda filed suit accusing state and federal officials of negligent medical care.

“Government officials imposed a death sentence on Mr. Castaneda, without benefit of judge or jury, by their failure to provide a simple and inexpensive diagnostic procedure to rule out a life-threatening disease,” his chief attorney, Conal Doyle of Oakland, said after filing the suit in federal court in Los Angeles.

Castaneda, in a statement released by his lawyers, said he was seeking justice “for all of the detainees who are being ignored when their health or even their lives are on the line.”

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The fact that 11 of the 18 wildfire victims lying in UCSD Medical Center’s burn unit are illegal immigrants with no apparent health coverage highlights the daunting financial challenge hospitals face in providing long-term, intensive care for all those who need it.

â??These are the most expensive kinds of cases, but we don’t look at these patients and say, oh, because they aren’t legal residents, we’ll stop providing care or stop changing their bandages,â? said Dr. Thomas McAfee, UCSD’s physician-in-chief. â??It’s part of our ethic to continue to provide this care no matter what.â?

According to the Mexican Consulate in San Diego, the burn victims are from central and southern Mexico, and include one woman. Four are in critical condition. All were rescued north of Tecate last week, said consulate spokesman Alberto Lozano, and it is suspected they had crossed the border illegally before coming face to face with the Harris fire.

Burn care requires ventilators, multiple surgeries, round-the-clock intensive care and grafts from human cadaveric skin. McAfee said grafts can be grown from patients’ own skin to minimize tissue rejection at $500,000 per patient.

Last year, the average cost of treating a burn patient at UCSD was $45,000 for an average 15-day stay.

When patients need long-term nursing care, said UCSD spokeswoman Leslie Franz, â??we make arrangements on a case-by-case basis. This could mean anything from them continuing to receive care from us, or we might transition them to another facility in that person’s home state or another country, if we can expedite that.â?

However, appropriate care in a person’s native country is not always available.

Esmeralda Siu of the Coalición Pro Defensa del Migrante, a network of migrant shelters and other services in Baja California, said rules prevent the United States from sending Mexican nationals home before they can travel safely.

â??By law, they can’t deport them if they are injured,â? said Siu, who is based in Tijuana. â??They have to be stabilized, and that they accept leaving, and that they are well to travel.â?

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates immigration restrictions, said that in the case of the 11 border burn victims, it might make sense to request assistance from the Mexican government or arrange long-term care in their home country.

â??An illegal immigrant who is in Chicago and goes to the ER, it’s hard to say the Mexican government should pay for it,â? Krikorian said. â??I think there is a plausible case to make for people who were sneaking across the border at the time of the injury, and clearly don’t have any business to be there. We should tap the Mexican government to say, ‘We need to share the burden here.’ â?

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Miami Herald

A new scientific finding that AIDS came to the United States from Africa via Haiti, probably arriving in Miami as early as 1969, stoked controversy among researchers and Haitians on Tuesday — reopening deep wounds over the medical community’s role in perpetuating a stigma against people from the island.

Published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study aims to better explain the origin of AIDS, whose history involves a virus with a sketchy story line that began in Africa in the 1930s and emerged in Los Angeles in 1981.

The findings were based, in part, on blood samples taken from about 20 Haitian patients at Jackson Memorial Hospital as early as 1979. The samples were frozen, stored at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and reanalyzed by the study’s authors, including a researcher at the University of Miami.

”We were seeing patients at Jackson Memorial with what we now call AIDS, and at the time we didn’t even know it,” said Dr. Arthur Pitchenik, co-author of the study and a professor of medicine at the University of Miami Medical School. “I started seeing Haitian immigrant patients with TB. They would get better from the TB only to die three to six months later from what we now call AIDS.”

Dr. Michael Gottlieb, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and one of the original discoverers of AIDS, said the analysis placed the HIV virus that causes it in the United States nearly a decade earlier than previously believed.

”It’s pretty clear evidence for Haiti as a stepping-stone,” he said. “The suggestion that the infection was further below our radar than I’d previously suspected is kind of unnerving.”

”This is very credible work,” added Dr. Margaret Fischl, a pioneering UM AIDS researcher. “Their approach is the way it should be done. Some of my colleagues think this is really remarkable work.”

The findings drew immediate anger from Miami’s Haitian community and raised concerns among some AIDS scientists, as well.

”People are going crazy,” said Dr. Laurinus Pierre, executive director of the Center for Haitian Studies in Little Haiti. Pierre said he has fought stigmas against Haitians from the first days of AIDS, in which researchers blamed the epidemic on the ”Four Hs” — homosexuals, Haitians, hemophiliacs and heroin addicts.

In February 1990, the Food and Drug Administration barred Haitians from donating blood in the United States, a policy that ignited scores of protests and highly publicized boycotts of blood drives. By December 1990, the FDA had scrapped its policy and developed a more rigorous screening of all blood donors.

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All this woman does is talk out of her ass and promise everybody everything under the sun. She says she’s not going to give illegal aliens free health care but then she’s said all along that she’s going to give everyone amnesty and make them all legal. What’s the difference.

FOX news

WASHINGTON â?? Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that immigrants living in the U.S. illegally would not be covered by her proposed universal health care plan.

The New York senator said she supports basic health services for illegal immigrants, including hospitalization and treatment of acute conditions. But she said the magnitude of the nation’s health care challenge means her universal coverage proposal would not cover the 12 million people living in the country illegally.

“People who are here legally deserve some better treatment and acceptance in the law than people who are not here legally,” she said. “These are hard choices.”

As for ways to reduce pressure on the overburdened health care system, she said she could envision using “carrots and maybe a few sticks” to motivate people to lose weight and make other behavioral changes that could help.

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Washington Times

A Mexican national infected with a highly contagious form of tuberculosis crossed the U.S. border 76 times and took multiple domestic flights in the last year, according to Customs and Border Protection interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Times.

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency was warned by health officials on April 16 that the frequent traveler was infected, but it took the Homeland Security officials more than six weeks to issue a May 31 alert to warn its own border inspectors, according to Homeland Security sources who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. Homeland Security took one more week to tell its own Transportation Security Agency.

Homeland stupidity

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR) is a highly contagious illness and also resistant to the two most commonly used drugs to treat TB. It is the same dangerous strain of tuberculosis that concerned health officials when Andrew Speaker, a 31-year-old Atlanta lawyer, slipped into the U.S. from Europe via a flight to Canada.

A physician with the CDC says that they usually only notify flights that are eight hours or longer that passengers could have potentially been infected. But other physicians say the disease can be transmitted within minutes â?? especially in persons with lowered immunity â?? and recommend anyone coming in contact with this contagious illness seek medical attention.

The infected man identified as Amado Isidro Armendariz Amaya made at least one more trip across the U.S. border on May 21, where he applied for an I-94 visa to extend his stay in the U.S.

Roger Maier, spokesman with El Paso CBP, says the delay for issuing a “be on the lookout” (BOLO) alert to stop the man at the border was caused by the traveler’s use of an alias.

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Illegal aliens get a free ride and we pay for it in higher health care costs, higher insurance rates, and higher taxes.

Daily Breeze

County officials and executives from nine hospitals adversely affected by recent emergency room closures will make a plea for more money Thursday to a state commission that oversees Medi-Cal reimbursement rates.

The nine private hospitals have been losing millions of dollars due to the influx of uninsured patients and those covered by Medi-Cal, which has the lowest reimbursement rate for services in the country. County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance has also been affected by the closure.

“We don’t have the luxury of failing,” said Jim Lott, executive director of the Hospital Association of Southern California, a trade organization that is spearheading Thursday’s meeting. “If we see even one of these hospitals close, it will have a dramatic ripple effect on the whole health system. It would make a horrible situation even worse.”

The August closure of the 48-bed emergency room at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital in Willowbrook was the tipping point of a long-simmering problem, Lott said. Four other hospitals or emergency rooms have closed in the last five years, forcing patients in some of the poorest [illegal alien populated] areas near Hawthorne, Gardena and El Segundo into already-crowded hospitals that have had to absorb about 100,000 additional emergency room visits each year.

Centinela Freeman Memorial Health System based in Inglewood, along with eight other private hospitals identified by the county, have suffered serious financial repercussions. Some are considering closing their emergency rooms as early as next year, officials say.

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RED BANK â?? Five-year-old Cesia howled in anguish, forgetting her vow to be tough, as the nurse stuck the hepatitis B vaccine in her arm. Then afterward, curled in her mother’s lap, her eyes puffy and red, the young Salvadoran child came to an un-childlike conclusion: “I’d rather get that than get sick,” she said through a translator.

It was the third time Ana, 33, had brought her daughter to the Parker Family Health Center since she and her husband emigrated to Red Bank from El Salvador four months ago. Last time, it was to cure Cesia’s ear infection; before that, another vaccine.

“The medicine is free, we’re well-treated and we don’t have to pay,” said Ana, also speaking through a translator. “Also I feel free to speak my own language.”

Later, however, Ana acknowledged the obvious reason for frequenting the clinic: “My only option is here.”

More than a third of New Jersey’s 1.3 million Hispanics are uninsured, according to a 2005 state report. In Monmouth and Ocean counties from 2000 to 2006, the demographic has grown by 38 percent.

Most of Monmouth’s 9.7 percent of uninsured residents are Latino, its public health coordinator, Michael Meddis, said. And Edward Rumen, spokesman for the Ocean County Health Department, estimates that of the thousands who come through his doors seeking treatment, about half are Hispanic, with 80 percent of them uninsured.

That leaves perhaps the fewest health services for one of the fastest growing and most at-risk groups. According to state figures, Hispanics had the highest tuberculosis morbidity rate in 2006, are twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to die from asthma, have the highest childhood obesity rate and a death count from HIV/AIDS that’s six times higher than whites. They also showed the slowest decline in overall death rate: 0.3 percent between 1993 and 2003, compared with a 20 percent drop among non-Hispanic blacks.

Limited resources

Such an inability to provide additional services is the most frustrating part of Marta Silverberg’s job as executive director at the Monmouth Health Center in Long Branch.

As a federally qualified clinic, the center does get state funding. New Jersey increased its spending on such clinics by $5 million to reach $40 million in this year’s budget. Yet this still does not provide enough for services beyond basic care, Silverberg said. She is now trying to compensate through grants but said the intense competitiveness has made it an arduous process.

“It’s the population with a lot of needs and a lot of health issues that have the most difficult time getting the treatment,” she said. Silverberg’s annual patient list has ballooned from 29,000 to 42,000 since 2004, and about 80 percent of them are Hispanics.

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SEATTLE — A problem in Canada’s hospitals is sending scores of pregnant women south of the border to have their babies.

Carri Ash of Chilliwack, B.C. was sent to the U.S. to have her baby after her water broke on Sunday, ten weeks ahead of schedule.

“And they came in and said ‘you’re going to Seattle,’” she said.

Ash’s hospital couldn’t handle the high-risk pregnancy. Doctors searched for another hospital bed, but even hospitals in Vancouver, B.C. didn’t have a neo-natal bed.

“So two provinces didn’t have enough room, so I have to go to another country,” said Ash.

Ash was sent to Swedish Medical Center where, nurses told KOMO 4 News, five Canadian women have come to have their babies in the past six weeks. Some were even airlifted at up to $5,000 per flight.

And a woman from Calgary, one of the wealthiest cities in Canada, had to travel to Montana to give birth to her identical quadruplets.

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