MARCH 08, 2010
In the latest outrage involving illegal immigration, mentally ill U.S. citizens in Florida are being placed on waiting lists for treatment because public facilities are overcrowded with illegal aliens.
As if this weren’t disturbing enough, state officials want to turn the illegal immigrants over to federal authorities but patient confidentiality laws forbid it because it would violate the illegal aliens’ privacy. The baffling information was revealed this week by a northern Florida newspaper that says the crisis puts the state at the forefront of a national debate over whether illegal immigrants should enjoy the same rights to public health care as legal residents.
The Sunshine State annually spends about $165 million on healthcare for illegal immigrants. A chunk of that, nearly $20 million, was spent to provide mental health care at public institutions for at least 86 illegal aliens, according to a November survey quoted in the piece. The cost is likely much higher, authorities say, because there are probably more unidentified undocumented immigrants in custody.
This has presented a huge burden on the state’s mental health resources and created a waiting list of 60 beds for those legal U.S. residents and citizens who need care. State lawmakers who oppose the current system have spoken out against it but failed to take action. The Republican who chairs Florida’s healthcare policy committee points out that it would be more appropriate for the illegal immigrants to “go back to their countries and get treatment there,” but so far has done nothing to remedy the situation.
U.S. taxpayers spend tens of billions of dollars annually to provide free medical care for illegal immigrants nationwide with states that border Mexico taking the biggest hit. The expense has become so unbearable in California—long an illegal alien sanctuary—that several municipalities eliminated the perk last year to save tens of millions of dollars in the midst of the state’s dire financial crisis.
Adding to the problem is the fact that Mexico, the country that provides the largest amount of illegal immigrants in the U.S., has long promoted America’s generous public health centers. It even operates a Spanish-language program (Ventanillas de Salud, Health Windows) in about a dozen U.S. cities that refers its nationals—living in the country illegally—to clinics where they can get free medical care without being turned over to immigration authorities.
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