August 29, 2008

Opinion: Drug-war patients: Don't make El Pasoans pay

El Paso Times Staff
Article Launched: 08/29/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT

County taxpayers have every right to demand payment from ... somebody else ... when drug-war victims shot in Juárez are transferred to Thomason Hospital.

Hospital costs so far this year are at $2 million for medical care and security for some 30 drug-violence victims who crossed into El Paso over international bridges, according to Thomason spokesmen.

It's U.S. law that treatment be given to anyone showing up at a U.S. hospital in need of emergency treatment. And Thomason is the only Level 1 trauma center within 250 miles.

U.S. citizens, of course, have automatic access to the ports of entry, and their hospital bills are to be taken care of as are those of all U.S. citizens.

But there's a question about who pays when the U.S. government allows a non-U.S. citizen to enter the country, and that patient doesn't pay. As U.S. Sen. John Cornyn told the El Paso Times Editorial Board on Aug. 18, U.S. authorities manning the ports of entry may admit persons to the U.S. if they deem it an emergency situation.

In these cases, it is only fair to El Paso taxpayers that the federal government make good on any of those hospital bills not paid. The onus should not be placed on just the taxpayers of El Paso County.

County Commissioner Luis Sariñana points out that some of the bills for drug-war victims have been paid through private insurance, by the Mexican government, through federal grants via the Sheriff's Office and by federal money designated for treatment of immigrants.



That helps.
In an El Paso Times/News Channel 9 poll, only a small percentage of El Pasoans think victims of Juárez drug violence should be treated at Thomason.

The poll showed 56.6 percent saying "no," 16.1 percent being "undecided" and 27.3 percent saying "yes."

There have been some 900 drug-war deaths in Ju rez so far this year. The Mexican federal government, along with its army, have not been able to quell the Juárez cartel war.

El Paso taxpayers should not be saddled with the burden of paying medical costs for that terrifying war in our sister city.

No comments:

Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?