It was the front-page article and the headline read: Illegal immigrant gets $500,000 liver transplant and the sting said "A Pacific Island overstayer will not pay a cent towards a half-million dollar hospital bill after the government granted her permanent residency." The story is een important enough to be granted it's own logo 'Migrant Health Crisis'.*
The Sunday Star Time isn't racist you see, it's just worried:
"The money we spend on these people is money we cannot spent on New Zealand residents or citizens," Crombie said.But lets look at the woman involved in the lead story in just a little bit more detail. She moved to New Zealand in 1998 and worked in a Tomato packhouse in South Auckland. Now my rant about employers and immigration will have to wait for anohter day, but today I'll just point out she was working here for 4 years before she got sick, and that the extent to which her employment complied with New Zealand employment and tax law was almost certainly up to her employer, rather than something she could control.
She went into liver failure while she was pregnant, but she didn't go to a doctor until she was 7 months pregnant, because she was worried about being an illegal immigrant. The liver failure was a result of undetected hepatitis B.
Did you get that - if she had gone to the doctor earlier she wouldn't have had liver failure. The reason her health care ended up costing so much money was not because we're too generous with health care to illegal immigrants, but because we're too stingy.** If this woman had had access to health care throughout the time she was working in New Zealand she wouldn't be sick now. That she was too scared to go to the doctor is an indictment on our immigration system.
I am going to write more about immigration. The current debate appears to be limited to either Winston Peters style frothing at the mouth, or defending immigration because business needs workers. There seems to be no room in the debate for those of us for who believe in immigration from a left-win, anti-racist perspective. Which makes it all the more important that those of us who hold that view speak it as loudly as we can.
* I have a kind of fascination/pity for the people who design logos for news stories. It seems to me that it'd be a truly soul-destroying job. One news channel's logo for the death of the twins in South Auckland recently was a hospital bed with two dummies on it - tasteful.
** This is obviously a problem among all poor people, not just illegal immigrants. Charging for doctor's visits in a publicly funded health service is ridiculous, and not just because I don't believe in paying for health care. Primary health care is the most effective way of spending health dollars, and yet it is the area where there is the biggest