Monday, October 24, 2011

Mitt Romney, public health, and illegal immigrants

Kevin Drum takes stock of the "controversy" surrounding RomneyCare and the fact that illegal immigrants can get some medical care on the tab of Massachusetts taxpayers:
Somebody in a rival campaign presumably thinks this is a useful campaign issue because the slavering masses of the tea party base won't be appeased until illegal immigrants are literally writhing in the streets while doctors walk by and pointedly ignore them. Allowing them access to even last-ditch health services is unacceptable, even if the pointy-heads insist that we're saving money in the long run because it keeps them out of emergency rooms.
At the risk of sounding collectivist, one of the reasons we have public health efforts is because health is so often collective. That illegal immigrant writhing in the street—and this imagery might be unfortunate—might have a communicable disease, and refusing to offer care to that person might end up communicating that disease to you. Giving them a free dose of penicillin might stop the infection in its tracks ... unless, of course, we decide that the immigrant shouldn't get that dose because, goshdarnit, America!

We provide public health services to the public—including illegal immigrants—not just out of some misguided bleeding-heart do-gooderism, but because it also protects the rest of us from epidemic and death. Think of it this way, immigration hawks: It's like building an electrified border fence around your physical well-being.

1 comment:

Notorious Ph.D. said...

And, I might add, if we Americans are so unfortunate as to fall ill or injured while traveling in most foreign countries, we can count on receiving the same basic medical care that their own citizens would receive, even if our insurance doesn't reimburse their costs (which it usually doesn't because -- hey, it's an American insurance company).