Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Say, Brother, Can You Spare $35.7 Million?

As we've long noted, illegal immigrants make up a disproportionate share of the uninsured, and account for untold millions of dollars in health care costs. Oh wait, did I say "untold?" Turns out, not so much:

"Beleaguered ... U.S. taxpayers coughed up a staggering $35.7 million this year in free emergency health care for more than 52,000 illegal aliens in Massachusetts, sparking outrage from candidates and critics who back a tougher line on immigration."

On the face of it, that $700 per illegal price tag doesn't seem too awful, but multiply that by the millions of these folks roaming the fruited plain, and you're talking about a lot of money. Now, it's not quite accurate to call all of these particular 52,000 illegals "uninsured," since almost 95% of those costs were borne by MassHealth. Of course, the folks who run that program were told to make themselves unavailable to the public, who might be (understandably) miffed at these revelations.

Beleaguered Bay State Guv Deval Patrick tried to deflect criticism by laying the blame on the Feds, but his argument is considered, at best, weak:

"The Patrick administration maintains that its hands are tied because failing to treat gravely illegal immigrants would be a violation of federal law, but some disagree ... 'My suspicion is it’s willful ignorance.'"

Regardless, the problem promises to get bigger, not smaller, since it's estimated that Massachusetts is home to almost a quarter million illegals.

Of course, one needn’t be an alien, legal or otherwise, to rack up some major health care costs. That's particularly true if you're a teacher in Buffalo, New York:

"Cosmetic surgery costs for Buffalo Public Schools employees have skyrocketed from less than $1 million in 2004 to nearly $9 million last year."

Now, some of these are no doubt legit (reconstructive surgery after breast cancer, that kind of thing), but $9 million worth? Probably not:

"The vast majority of those procedures ... were chemical peels, laser hair removal, skin rejuvenation and other skin treatments. All of them were elective procedures"

Whatever happened to mudpacks and cucumber slices?
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