Ronald Reagan signed into law the bill that requires local hospitals to provide free emergency medical services to illegal aliens. This was in 1986: the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Here is a summary.
The law was designed to provide patients with access to emergency medical care and to prevent hospitals from “dumping” unstable patients that could not afford to pay for their care. “Under the law, “any patient arriving at an Emergency Department (ED) in a hospital that participates in the Medicare program must be given an initial screening, and if found to be in need of emergency treatment (or in active labor), must be treated until stable.” . . .
Although the law refers specifically to hospitals with an ED, the guidelines from the federal government have applied EMTALA requirements to all facilities that participate in the Medicare program and offer emergency services.
The irony here is that the inevitable results of this law are cited over and over by conservatives who call for the deportation of illegal immigrants. Sometimes they mention free education in tax-funded schools, but it is free emergency medical care that they think justifies deportation.
There are two ways to solve this. First, pass a law repealing this law. Second, deport all illegal immigrants. I favor the first. Let me explain why.
COSTS AND BENEFITS
In response to my article on the impossibility, economically speaking, for the federal government to deport five million families who are inside the United States, I got what is by far the most common reaction to my analysis. The critic pointed out that illegal aliens use the welfare system to get benefits.
The person did not mention the fact that the federal government would have to spend a minimum of $100 billion to deport the targeted five million families that are supposedly going to be protected from deportation by Obama’s executive order. That does not count the additional five million families, or possibly 10 million families, that are not expected to be covered by this Executive Order.
It also does not factor in the obvious fact of economics: the rising cost of implementing any policy by the federal government. As the easy targets are picked off, the remaining targets become far more expensive to deport. This is an economic phenomenon known as the law of diminishing marginal returns. It costs something in the range of $23,000 to deport one family today. We can be sure that after the first million or so families being deported, this cost will get much higher. It will easily go to $200 billion. It could go much higher. The last 250,000 will be astronomically expensive to deport.
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)