ER Overload: A Survey of the Research Available Shows That Uninsured Illegal Immigrants Are an Imponderable Burden in Our Nation's Hospitals, in Particular Emergency Rooms

Article excerpt

Jonathan Narvaez-Pena admitted to drinking 10-15 shots of tequila before getting into his Buick Park Avenue and speeding through the streets of Nashville on the night of October 21, 2006. Narvaez-Pena, an uninsured illegal alien with a prior arrest for driving without a license, ran numerous red lights before crashing into the Bumvu family's car. Antoine Bumvu, 43, and his two-year-old son, Eddy, were killed in the accident. Bumvu's wife, Josephine, and his six-month-old son, Tony, were seriously injured and taken to the hospital. Four other vehicles were involved in the crash and a total of 11 victims were taken to area hospitals, including Narvaez-Pena's two-year-old daughter, Hillary, who received massive facial trauma.

No amount of money can compensate the Bumvu family for the permanent loss of their loved ones. Nevertheless, taxpayers along with auto and medical insurance policy holders will end up being stuck with a hefty price tag for Narvaez-Pena's 11 victims. It is an all-too-common occurrence. According to Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), each day 13 Americans are killed by illegal aliens driving drunk. Many more are seriously, permanently injured.

Consider the plight of Tricia Ann Taylor, who lost both legs after being struck by speeding drunk driver Jose Carcamo in August 2002. Miss Taylor, then 17, and a friend, Noah Menard, then 20, were walking from a restaurant to Noah's car in Pontiac, Michigan, when Carcamo, an uninsured illegal alien with a police record of 17 previous violations and arrests, ran into them at a speed of 50 to 70 miles per hour. Taylor underwent several operations, including amputation of both of her legs. Mr. Menard sustained, among other injuries, a fractured skull and collarbone and a mangled elbow requiring surgery and the insertion of eight pins. The victims, the taxpayers, and the insurance rate payers--not Mr. Carcamo--picked up the expensive medical tab.

Javier Escarcega, a 21-year-old illegal who worked in an Omaha pizza parlor, was seriously injured as a passenger in a car driven by his illegal alien buddy. Six months of hospitalization and rehabilitation for the uninsured Escarcega came to about half a million dollars. Saul Diaz, an unemployed, uninsured 24-year-old illegal, racked up over $1 million in medical expenses at Atlanta's Gwinnett Medical Center after his automobile accident.

The medical expenses for Omar Santos-Cruz, a 17-year-old construction worker injured while working on a development in suburban Birmingham, Alabama, may end up costing millions. Jefferson County, Alabama, Circuit Judge G. William Noble has ruled that Santos-Cruz, an uninsured illegal alien from Mexico, must receive workman's comp benefits and medical care for the rest of his life.

Some Numbers

If you think you see a pattern here, you do. As national and local news reports about the aforementioned illegal aliens show, when it comes to their medical bills, the rest of us are left holding the bag. Indeed, a survey of the research available from a variety of organizations, from healthcare to immigration-policy groups, shows that uninsured illegal immigrants are an imponderable burden on the nation's hospitals, in particular emergency rooms. As they are with respect to other statistics regarding illegal immigration, the numbers on healthcare are startling. Calling them frightening would not overstate the matter. But the figures that study after study disclose are also appalling for what they show about the political elite's steadfast refusal to stop illegal immigration.

In June, an article in the Washington Post concluded that emergency-room care "is on the verge of collapse." From 1993 to 2003, the newspaper reported, the American population grew 12 percent, but emergency room visits grew 27 percent. "In that same period, however, 425 emergency departments closed, along with about 700 hospitals and nearly 200,000 beds." As well, in 2003, ambulances were diverted from emergency rooms 501,000 times because the emergency rooms were full. …