Hospital Admissions Restrictions: The Statist Mentality

By Thomas Salazar

ArizonaA new bill proposed in the Arizona state legislature (HB 2293 or Hospital Admissions Restrictions) would require the “hospital admissions officer or representative” to be held responsible to the State of Arizona for seeking out whether or not a patient is legally present in the United States, if the patient does not have valid insurance. The problem is that immigration is the job of the federal government. The onus should not be on the state to insist that hospitals and their staff do the job of immigration officers. Hospitals are already burdened down by the overbearing regulations imposed by the Affordable Care Act. The last thing they need is to be inundated with more regulations.

Unfortunately, legislatures and bureaucrats do not consider this before they pass a bill. As Thomas Sowell states:

“The fatal attraction of government is that it allows busybodies to impose decisions on others without paying any price themselves. That enables them to act as if there were no price, even when there are ruinous prices — paid by others.”

That price could be the need to hire new staff to meet these regulations if it becomes law. It could divert funds for staff and resources that could be going to help cover the cost of medical treatments. Moreover, this legislation could reduce the hospitals staff’s time and ability to efficiently help patients obtain the medical attention they need, because the staff will be wasting time probing patients for documentation to prove whether the patient is legally here in the United States.

This legislation also requires the hospitals to keep records. The proposed bill states,

“A HOSPITAL MUST SUBMIT AN ANNUAL REPORT TO THE DEPARTMENT TO DOCUMENT ITS COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SECTION IN A MANNER AND FORM PRESCRIBED BY THE DEPARTMENT.  EACH REPORT MUST INCLUDE DOCUMENTATION REGARDING THE NUMBER OF PERSONS WHO DID NOT SHOW PROPER OR VALID INFORMATION AND THE NUMBER OF REFERRALS TO IMMIGRATION OR LAW ENFORCEMENT, OR BOTH, PURSUANT TO SUBSECTION B OF THIS SECTION.  THE DEPARTMENT SHALL TAKE ALL REASONABLE ACTION TO COLLECT THE DATA AND SUBMIT A REPORT ON OR BEFORE NOVEMBER 15 OF EACH YEAR TO THE GOVERNOR, THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE CHAIRPERSONS OF THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEES OF THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.”

This to me is an overreach and beyond reasonable. The fact is that this does nothing to stop or curb illegal immigration. No one comes here to get sick or injured just to become treated in an American hospital.

Whose job is it, anyway, to enforce immigration? The resounding answer should be that it is not Banner, Integrity Health Care, nor any other hospital’s responsibility. These hospitals have trained staff who are there to help patients. Their staff members are not state or federal officers who are trained to enforce state or federal laws nor should they be treated or thought of as such. The goal of the legislature should not involve punishing hospitals by coercing them to modify their procedures and incur added cost, due to the failures of the federal government. More government regulation on business, nonprofits and individual citizens is not the answer to illegal immigration. Until the Federal government enforces our borders and passes immigration reform enabling more people to come here legally to work, there will be no real change.

These petty measures by our legislature do nothing more than cause problems and over regulate our businesses and organizations. In the end, this amendment hopefully will not pass because it sets a shameful precedent where the government can coercively demand private organizations to report on those who use their services. Therefore, let’s look beyond demagoguery and band aid bills that do nothing to fix the issue and oppose this bill.

Editors note: as with all blog postings that appear with a by-line, the opinions presented are the author’s and not necessarily the positions of Cafe Con Leche Republicans.

Thomas Martin Salazar is an Arizona leader of the Café con Leche Republicans. Thomas was born and raised in Arizona. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Grand Canyon University and is currently working on obtaining a MDiv in Biblical Communication from Phoenix Seminary. Thomas has also served as the Grand Canyon University College Republicans Vice President and interim President (February 2007-April 2008) and as a Maricopa County Republican Precinct committeeman (August 2009 – August 2012).