By Edward Beyer, San Clemente
All of us are very concerned about losing our hospital (Saddleback Memorial Medical Center, Dana Point’s nearest hospital). What is the answer to correct this tragedy? Here, in my opinion, is what caused the hospital’s demise.
In 1986, a Democratic congress, led by Tip O’Neal, passed a federal law called: “Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.”
All hospitals in America must follow this law. It is illegal to demand payment from anyone who enters emergency rooms, if they do not have the ability to pay. A hospital cannot even ask for a credit check. It is estimated by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that 55 percent of patients in emergency rooms do not pay.
USA Today stated a month ago that community hospitals, out of necessity, are closing all over America. Our hospital has been losing money for a long time. Most local doctors don’t refer their patients to our hospital but send them elsewhere. When Reagan was governor, he ended up with a surplus because he closed down many of the mental hospitals. These poor people, who are the least able to take care of themselves, end up in emergency rooms, prisons and live on the streets.
We never had homeless people until Reagan was governor. One dies almost every night in Los Angeles from homicide, disease, or rape. Last month, a homeless person died just off Pico, here in San Clemente. God help us all! For years, Republicans and Democrats in Washington, including Obama, have done nothing to protect our borders.
Emergency room doctors, in many cases, deliver for free, babies from illegal parents, or treat gunshot wounds for nothing. With the Affordable Health Care Act, hospitals have to pay significant tax on the equipment they purchase. This health care act is the kiss of death for all of us. Most politicians are not very smart. Their true skill is to get elected and re-elected. If we are losing our hospital, it is our own fault.