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July 24, 2013

Canada vs. US: Medical needs of non-citizens

The Canadian Charger

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Jason Kenney, Canada's ex-Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, has cut health care for refugees.

With a complicated regulation on who does and does not get care, those excluded do not get “gold-plated” care from the federal government.  “Gold-plated” ends up including urgent cancer treatment, for example.  In that case, Saskatchewan’s Tory Premier Brad Wall put his foot down.  The province picked up the bill.  Well, Canada is not the only place facing the issue of how to meet the medical needs of non-citizens.

The issue arises in the United States.  There the question is not about refugees.  The foreigners in question (Americans call them “aliens”) are illegal immigrants, people who have slipped across the border from Mexico in search of work and a better way of life.  What is to be done to meet their medical needs?

According to Jennifer Medina, writing in the New York Times, California counties with large numbers of illegal’s are pressing higher levels of government to pay even for preventive health care.  That sounds pretty “gold-plated.”  These counties see the handwriting on the wall: either the illegals get care in the community or they flood the hospital emergency rooms, costing the system much more.

Don Knabe, a Republican Los Angeles County Supervisor, was quoted by Medina as saying, “We don’t want millions of sick people walking around.”  And Daniel Zingale, senior vice-president of the health care organization California Endowment, argued, “California has really acknowledged that all immigrants who are here are part of our present and our future, so we need them to be healthy.” 

One difference between the situation in California and that in Canada is in the size of the problem.  There are millions of illegals in California, while the refugees and claimants in Canada are far fewer.  Another is that in California there appears to be some real appreciation for the costs of doing nothing.  Jason Kenney has neither the understanding nor the appreciation of that cost.  And don’t even think of talking to him or to Harper about the human suffering he is causing.

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M. Elmasry

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