Thursday, November 20, 2008


Las Vegas is joining the rest of the country by having a slowdown in the economy. This means that people are not coming here and spending their money on frivolous things like gambling and food and hotel rooms. What’s up with that people? Forego that next car payment and come on out here and have a good time and keep us going. B has a niece that works across the street at the big casino resort hotel that used to be a pirate themed place but still has the ships out front in the moat. She works advanced reservations, was told that reservations servicing was being outsourced to India for all the MGM/Mirage properties, and cut back from a full time job to thirteen hours a week. With rumors going around about the whole place being shut down and whatever people want to come stay in the hotel being put up in the sister property next door, the one with the volcano. Oh, Merry Christmas, employees.

Along that line, our largest hospital is also not doing very well financially. Medicaid and other government health plans have severely cut back on their reimbursements, so a lot of the services that the hospital offers are being cut back or cancelled altogether. The problem we have here in Las Vegas is that if a service is not available we have to drive several hundred miles down towards Los Angeles in order to find other medical centers to get treatment. Some of the services that will be cut off include most outpatient services, including dialysis, prenatal care and cancer treatment. The story on this included an interesting comment by the hospital spokesman. He said something about wishing the people that were being turned away could find service elsewhere, as some of the treatment was very expensive, up to $10,000 per session for the meds alone. Most of them did not have insurance, and about 150 of the 400 cancer patients were not documented. This is semi-political speak for ‘illegal aliens’.

So my question today is: what are your feelings on this? Over a third of the people receiving medical services, and expensive services at that, are in this country illegally. They and the others are now being denied service because the money has run out. Is it the job of the hospital to insure that everyone is receiving the service to which they are legally entitled? Should these undocumented people be referred to the INS? Would this then make people hesitant to receive treatment? Should the US offer support to the world? Are we overextended, or is it the right thing to do?

On a related note, a recent story on PBS radio discussed a change in regulations by the state department, placing a number of countries on the list where citizens coming to visit the US do not require visas, with stays of up to three months permitted. One of these newly listed countries is South Korea. The story went on to discuss new travel companies that had sprung up, called Birthing Services, who arranged for South Koreans to travel to Guam in the eighth month of their pregnancies. The trip included hotel until they gave birth, and a drive to the local hospital, so that the child would then be a legal US citizen. Several families interviewed were saving up for this, so that when the kids got to college age they could then attend school in the US and would pay citizens tuition, not the much higher foreigner’s tuition. Based on the fourteenth amendment, written to give legal status to former slaves, stating that all persons born in the US or possessions are considered US citizens. Some people are upset that anyone can travel to the US, legally or not, and give birth to a child that is then considered a US citizen. Coming from San Diego I know there were people that crossed the border from Mexico just to give birth here. Hospitals could not deny services to a woman in labor, and there are many unpaid hospital bills all along the border because of this. So, second question: comments on this area?

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