Overcrowded ER’s


Man, Patterico is on a roll. This time the Los Angeles Times ignores the elephant in the room as they write about how crowded our ER’s are:

The long waits that government inspectors say endanger emergency room patients at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center can also be found in backlogged hospitals across the country, according to emergency care experts who have been trying for years to draw attention to the nation’s overloaded safety net.

“Overcrowding in our emergency departments is a national crisis,” said Dr. Linda Lawrence, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, an advocacy group based in Washington D.C. “We no longer have the capacity to serve as the safety net for society.”

The group surveyed 1,000 emergency care physicians in September and found that one in five knew of a patient who had died because of having to wait too long for care, Lawrence said.

The death of an emergency room patient in December at Harbor-UCLA prompted California health officials, acting on behalf of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to inspect the L.A. County hospital. William Harold Jones Jr., 56, was admitted to the emergency room on Dec. 22 but left the hospital before treatment was finished. His absence went unnoticed for hours before he was found dead on a sidewalk across the street.

My wife, who works as an ER nurse in a Southern California hospital can attest to the overcrowding of ER’s. The LA Times gets that right. But they seemed to ignore the very real cause of this overcrowding. In the article they mention numerous factors that are causing it including a nursing shortage, a bed shortage, an aging population and so on.


The growing number of people without medical insurance also contributes because the lack of reimbursement, along with ever-shrinking payments from both public and private insurers, has turned many emergency rooms into money-losers and driven some hospitals out of the emergency-care business. Federal law requires hospital emergency rooms to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay.

That growing number of people without medical insurance just happens to be illegal immigrants. Does the LA Times mention that? 1,350 words and not one instance of immigrants nor illegal throughout.

Patterico does tho:

A recent study by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office confirms what most people suspect as a matter of common sense: that emergency rooms are feeling a strain from the millions of illegal immigrants in our country, especially in the border states.

[B]ecause unauthorized immigrants are less likely to have health insurance, they are more likely to rely on emergency facilities or public hospitals for treatment of nonemergency illnesses and other health-related problems.

The study cites studies by the RAND Corporation and the Pew Hispanic Center which estimate that 60-65% of illegal immigrants are uninsured. This results in tremendous health care costs. According to the Phoenix Business Journal:

Undocumented immigrants are more likely to access emergency rooms and urgent care facilities because most do not have health care, the study said. In Arizona and other border areas, states paid nearly $190 million in health care costs for undocumented immigrants in 2000, the study reported. The amount, which the study says likely has risen since then, represented one-quarter of all uncompensated health care costs in those states that year.

The amount clearly has risen. A January 2007 story in the San Diego Union Tribune says:

In California, hospitals spend about $700 million annually on emergency room services for illegal immigrants, said Jan Emerson, spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association in Sacramento.

And in 2005, U.S. Senator Jon Kyl put the number much higher for the nation as a whole:

The estimated annual cost to hospitals and other providers of emergency health care nationwide for illegal aliens is $1.45 billion.

Illegals tend to use the ER as their source for non-emergency medical care. The reason: it’s the only way they can afford to see a doctor – because in the ER, taxpayers are footing the bill:

Illegal immigrants can get emergency care through Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor and people with disabilities. But they can’t get non-emergency care unless they pay.

The rise of the uninsured, which the L.A. Times describes as one of the major problems facing ERs, is also in large part a problem of illegal immigration. USA Today reported in 2005:

The increase in the number of people without health insurance has occurred largely because of illegal immigration, a study found.

Researchers at the RAND Corporation, a non-partisan think tank, analyzed data received from about 2,400 people in Los Angeles County in 2000 and 2001, and applied that information to the nation’s undocumented population at large.

The number of uninsured adults in the United States grew by about 8.7 million between 1980 and 2000. If the trend for Los Angeles County held true for the rest of the country, about a third of that growth can be attributable to illegal immigrants.

Hospitals recognize the problem:

For hospitals, “the burden of the uninsured immigrant is huge,” says Jeff Spade, vice president of the North Carolina Hospital Association. “It’s exploded the amount of work that they have to do.”

Amazing what one can do with 30 minutes of searching the web. Something the LA Times forgot to do I suppose. I mean they wouldn’t purposely omit this fact during the run up to the election would they?

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They have different reasons for this story, they want Universal health care. The story is true. Over crowding is rampant, emergency rooms shutting down but we want open boarders, don’t we?

Perhaps they are just following the recommendations of their president.


“I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.”

George W. Bush
July 10, 2007

I wonder how much of our health insurance costs goes to covering the expenses of illegals? Maybe they didn’t need to rise so quickly over the last several years if not for that. And how is nationalizing health care going to make it any cheaper or better to those of us who actually pay taxes? We’ll just be expected to pay for everything for everyone, especially after the border is “certified”closed and the amnesty dam is open.

The fastest, and best way to start reforming and scaling down health care costs is tort reform. Hoever, since trial lawyers form the largest, and possibly richest lobby in America, I doubt that will happen.

Re: “The fastest, and best way to start reforming and scaling down health care costs is tort reform.”

As always, Conservatives make blanket recommendations, without bothering with facts. Here are some facts.

Fact 1
Administrative costs for private providers (insurance companies) are 13% of total health care cost, by their own numbers.


Fact 2
Medical malpractice costs are less than 2% of health care costs.


Fact 3
Medicare costs run about 3% of total costs.


Therefore, we could see at most a 2% savings on medical cost if we abolished all malpractice whatsoever, no matter what.

However, as can be seen by the difference in administrative costs, we cold realize a 10% savings if everyone was just insured by Medicare and we abolished private insurance (the “socialized medicine” route).

Now, I am NOT advocating one solution or the other (although, of course, every single Conservative poster here will declare that I am). But I am just pointing out the fact that there is a bigger bang for the buck with one option over the other.

You make the choice. But make it on facts, not opinions.

Ah, the Steve slap in the face insult, but don’t call him on it, or he will be offended.

Fine Steve, throw out your biased sources. I choose keeping the bumbling socialists and their fat, vulture trial lawyers out of medicine and allowing competition and reduced government reed tape. But that is just my “simple solution”. A solution born form having both parents in the medical profession who deal/dealt with the same government and lawyer BS daily. But that will neuter the DNC’s largest PAC and contribution source so i can see why you are defensive.

And knowing your sources, I could probably find who funds them and disprove your point without much effort.

That and the richer Canadians are crossing the Ambassador Bridge and paying out of pocket to use US Health Care. If their system is so great, then why are those who have the ability so eager to get away from it?

All I did was post some facts (in each case from a source favorable to “that” side: The insurance companies and the trial lawyers. Doesn’t that make me “fair and balanced”?)

And, exactly as I predicted: the attacks upon me were as though I had proposed one side or the other. If one were to actually read my post, one would immediately know that I did not advocate any alternative.

Steve, if one needs reminding to actually read and respond to posts, it is not the rest of us, it is you.

And, exactly as I predicted, you get all offended and feel “attacked” when we point out, yet another, Steve special insult at conservatives. As usual, you attack, but when confronted, you get all indignant. As I recall, you stated I was the conservative who made “blanket recommendations, without bothering with facts.” Wrong as usual, Steve. Sorry again if I do not back down. Better men have tried and failed at that, and they used AKs.

So, as usual, Steve can say whatever, but damn us all if we defend ourselves.

I did not say you took a position. If you read my post, you would know that I, however, had a position. From past history, I do not trust your sources and will question them. I trust my own experiences, those of my family, and those I know in the medical profession. I live under a “single payer” system in the Army called Tricare. To say it stinks would be an insult to skunks. If my wife were not as diligent as she is in calling them weekly to pay one bill or get another authorization, we would get no care at all.

I know as bad as Tricare is, it is the prototype for Hillary Care and unleashing it upon the US would be catastrophic both economically and socially.