by Max Brantley
Don't believe me? Check out the e-mail he sent to Health Department director Paul Halverson (copies to all Republican legislators) demanding birth certificates be produced before the state supplies any non-emergency health care. Halverson responds calmly. This would be a burdensome rule many Arkansans would have a hard time fulfilling, he notes. Plus, better health means providing health care, not denying it.
Speaking of unhinged legislators, check out Wyoming, where the Republicans are working on a bill to prepare for the collapse of the federal government — studying a Wyoming military draft, issuing the state's own currency and such. The story even mentions a study for what conditions would require Wyoming to acquire an aircraft carrier.
Back to Hubbard's harangue of the state Health Department:
LETTER FROM JON HUBBARD
I am very aware of your concerns over the issue of communicable diseases being introduced into our state, which many times happens to be brought into our state by the very illegal and/or undocumented aliens the passage of my HB1292 would have addressed. This is no-doubt a very valid concern, but so is my concern over the source of these communicable diseases. Whether you are willing to admit it or not, the reason for undocumented/Illegal persons coming to AR in the first place is due to our "open door" policy toward illegals, and our growing reputation as a "sanctuary state" and friendly haven for them. My requests to you have been more directed toward what draws these illegal people to our state, which is to receive state benefits for which they are not entitled. Governor Beebe has admitted on several occasions that illegal or undocumented persons receiving state benefits for which they are not entitled, is indeed breaking the law. If he is aware that this is breaking the law, why does he not do whatever is necessary to aid in the enforcement of these laws? We are getting nowhere by ignoring the law, and the sooner we stop dancing around this issue and decide that it is time to stop the terminal hemorrhage of our state revenues used to support these illegal aliens, the sooner we can redirect these lost revenues toward areas that will help support the needs of our people who actually are entitled to receive them.
Children all over AR are required ever Spring and Summer to supply birth certificates to verify their age before they are allowed to play Little League Baseball. Why can't ADH impose the same basic requirement before they provide non-emergency medical services in their facilities? The simple act of asking for identification to determine whether someone is eligible and entitled to receive state benefits, before allowing non-emergency medical treatment to be provided to them, would likely take about one to two minutes to complete. If this is your justification for allowing ADH personnel to "turn their heads" and not ask for this documentation, I contend that this is not only very weak justification at best, but complicit in criminal activity at worse. I have asked that you provide me with the "original" feasibility studies and tests information, and any other "original" documentation used by ADH to compile the ADH generated report you sent to me as an attachment to your earlier email. If you will forgive me, Dr. Halverson, we have learned to distrust some documentation supplied by various Departments within our state government to support said Department's justification for funding and/or policy implementation. I am requesting that you provide me with ALL "original" documentation received and used by your Department to support your contention that you are not allowed to verify residency of those coming to ADH facilities for medical care and/or treatment. I am not asking for previously submitted reports generated by ADH in hopes this will satisfy my request.
(1) I need copies of Federal Government regulations stating that you CANNOT verify residency of those seeking medical treatment or care at your ADH facilities.
(2) I need copies of any and ALL "original" documentation provided to ADH from ALL outside sources, and used by ADH to show the number of undocumented persons in AR, and the amount of state funding used to pay for medical care and other services provided by ADH to these undocumented persons.
It is time to stop beating around the bush, and provide this requested information. I look forward to you full cooperation on this matter, and receiving the requested material by no later than Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012, or your detailed explanation as to why this requested info is not forthcoming.
RESPONSE FROM DR. PAUL HALVERSON
Dear Representative Hubbard,
While I appreciate your concern with providing state benefits to undocumented persons, the laws pertaining to many of the ADH federal grants require the Department of Health to provide these services without regard to citizenship. Denying services based upon citizenship would force ADH to forfeit these federal funds and would directly affect our ability to provide services to all Arkansans. Another critical issue is that not treating someone based upon citizenship status results in an increased public health risk and a greater cost to the citizens of Arkansas. That said, ADH does not want to dissuade individuals who may have a communicable disease from seeking medical treatment at one of our many health units. If the Department could require proof of citizenship, every person who visited one of our facilities would be required to provide a birth certificate or passport. Many of the Arkansas citizens ADH serves, particularly in more rural areas of the state, do not have this information to provide and obtaining it would be quite burdensome for them.
Again, I respect your concerns on this issue; however, the ultimate goal of the Department is to protect the health of the individuals who reside within the state. In order to do that, ADH must open its services to all individuals regardless of citizenship. I have attached a copy of the report I provided in committee last February showing the impact of immigrants on health services provided by ADH.