MARCH 18, 2009
Pushed against the wall by a devastating budget crisis, a second county in a notorious sanctuary border state will end the costly practice of providing illegal immigrants with free healthcare.
Supervisors in northern California’s Contra Costa County approved a measure this week to stop offering illegal aliens free non-urgent health care at its public clinics. Officials estimate that it will save taxpayers about $6 to cut services to the 5,500 illegal immigrants served annually.
Last month Sacramento County, struggling with a $55 million budget deficit, became the state’s first to eliminate free health care for illegal immigrants at its struggling public clinics. The move is predicted by officials to save the county, which is considered California’s prime agriculture region, about $2.4 million.
Contra Costa, one of nine counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the state’s ninth most populous and has been hit especially hard by California’s unprecedented economic problems. Health services have really felt the impact, with the elimination of social workers, huge cuts in mental health services and dangerously overcrowded delivery rooms.
In all, county lawmakers were forced to make $50 million in budget cuts this week. More than $8 million was slashed from the Employment and Human Services Department, nearly $2 million from the prosecutor’s office and about $1 million from the sheriff’s department.
Reluctant and apologetic, the county’s health director said his department just doesn’t have the money to continue offering illegal immigrants medical care. Dozens of doctors from a county public hospital protested the cost-cutting plan, however, pointing out that the system’s mission is to serve the most vulnerable population.
Providing free medical care for its estimated 3 million illegal immigrants has consistently been one of California’s largest expenses, an annual cost of $775 million according to a news report which cited legislative figures. The Golden State also spends $4 billion a year to educate illegal aliens, $970 million to incarcerate them and about $500 million on other welfare benefits.
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