From time to time I have heard this myth touted by the xenophobic right, that myth about all those illegal immigrants crowding our emergency rooms, forcing us "real" Amerikuns to wait for our rhatful medical attention, and that myth about illegals getting free health care on our precious tax dollars - you know, the same tax dollars we don't mind pouring down the endless cesspool of KBR, Halliburton, Blackwater, and all the other BushCo corporate pals that are profiting from Iraq's destruction.
Well, finally, somebody has provided a tiny little whiff of the reality of the emergency room situation, and now I know why BushCo has to perpetuate the illegals-takin'-ahr-stuff myth. Our emergency rooms are crowded because THERE ARE SO MANY UNINSURED AMERICANS.
Take a gander at this excerpt from this Truthdig article by Bill Boyarsky, Campaign ’08: Giving U.S. Health Care a Checkup:
At the urgent-care center, which treats the walk-in sick, more than 50 men and women were waiting to see a doctor. They mirrored the population—white, Latino, Asian and African-American. They did not fit the bigoted stereotype of the uninsured illegal immigrants from somewhere south of the border.
Dr. Gail Anderson, the hospital medical director, said the composition of the urgent-care patients was a sign of the growing number of uninsured. “Generally, we’re having people who would normally be covered,” he said, “working-class, mixed-ethnic, not just abject indigent types. Day in and day out, it is a cross section of working groups in the community.”
The uninsured have also strained the hospital’s emergency room, a situation exacerbated by the closing of another major county hospital about 10 miles away.
Dr. Roger Lewis of Harbor-UCLA’s Department of Emergency Medicine recently told a congressional committee of a day in March when “there were 78 patients undergoing treatment in the ED [emergency department]. Because we don’t have room for that number of patients, 33 were being treated in chairs or hallways not originally intended for patient care, 37 patients were still in the waiting room waiting to be seen by a physician, and 20 patients we had previously admitted to the hospital were being ‘boarded’ in the ED because there was no room in the inpatient hospital wards. Some of our admitted patients had been waiting one or two full days for a bed upstairs. Not surprisingly ... we had no space for incoming ambulance patients.”
Harbor illustrates a national problem. The National Coalition on Health Care, composed of unions, health organizations, General Electric and others, reported that the uninsured are increasing, with most of them coming from working families. Most are native or naturalized citizens. The number of workers with employer-based health insurance dropped from 70 percent in 1987 to 59 percent in 2006. Nearly 40 percent of the uninsured live in households earning $50,000 or more a year.