The shortage of nurses throughout the U.S. is becoming a major concern. In its most recent survey, done in March 2000, the federal Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) found that of the 197,500 licensed registered nurses in New York, only 160,000 or 81 percent were working as nurses. That means 19 percent chose not to practice their profession (Geller). This trend is migrating across the U.S. in a timely fashion. Due to the fact that there is a shortage of nurses, hospitals cannot afford to tend to undocumented immigrants. Enrollment in nursing schools plummeted by 2,500 between 1996 and 2000 (Geller). The need for nurses is expected to increase over the next couple of years. This increase is due to the large number of illegal immigrants and aging population. Illegal immigrants are forcing hospitals to have a shortage of nurses.
Overcrowded emergency rooms have been a long time dilemma within the hospital system. Nationwide, an increasing number of ambulances are being turned away and diverted to other hospitals due to overcrowded emergency rooms (Carr). These overcrowded emergency rooms consist of excess patients who are in the process of being treated. The question that lingers around this problem is do we need more hospital space. Illegal immigrants play a vital role in contributing to these overcrowded emergency rooms. Why should the states build more hospital space when they can cut down on the non-citizens who receive free health care? The overcrowded emergency rooms can sometimes result in non-citizens being turned away. Levin stated that “Many public hospitals in Texas are already overburdened and some such as Brackenridge Hospital in Austin have begun turning patients away” (3).
Taxpayers shell out billions of dollars that contributes to paying for free health care. Levin stated “The Harris County Hospital District alone doled out 330 million in free medical care to illegal immigrants over the last three years. Taxpayers are major contributors to the free health care received by illegal immigrants. When Hillary Clinton proposed a universal health care system, she only had the comparatively modest goal of providing socialized medicine to all American citizens (Levin). Now, public hospitals in Texas' largest counties are outdoing the former First Lady and defying federal law by continuing to deliver unlimited free health care services to illegal immigrants. (Levin) The law that prohibited states from giving free health care to illegal immigrants was passed in 1996. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PWORA) is the sole mediator in defining what kind of free health care is accessible to illegal immigrants. The PWORA specifically and unambiguously states that the only free or discounted services public hospitals can provide to illegal aliens are emergency room care, immunizations and treatment for communicable diseases and child abuse (Levin). Why should we as taxpayers continue to provide for those residents who are illegal residents when we have a hard enough time trying to take care of our legal residents?
Illegal residents will continue to leach off of taxpayer’s money and receive free health care. As a taxpayer, I feel that I should have every right to disagree with illegal residents receiving free health care. Based on past experiences, I have witnessed the problem of illegal immigrants invading our hospitals only leads to problems for the hospital system. With the number of illegal immigrants and population increasing at an alarming rate, who knows how our emergency rooms will overcome this situation. Not only is this headed towards a major conflict but it also puts a lot stress on the citizens who have a right to receive some type of free health care. The shortage of nurses plus high population equals a colossal problem. In order to accommodate the surplus of illegal immigrants receiving free health care, the nursing field has to get back on track. This surplus of illegal immigrant receiving free health care is at the brink and has potential to get worse over the years. The hospital has enough problems dealing with legal citizens and cannot afford to waste money on non-residents. Over crowded emergency rooms and a shortage of nurses will continue to be a negative effect of these illegal residents invading our hospitals.