May 18, 2003

County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.
Board Of Supervisors, County Of L.A.
500 West Temple Street, Rm 869
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Dear Supervisor Antonovich:

According to the article of May 12, 2003, in the Daily News, you are proposing an ordinance, which you said would need approval from Congress, that would require would-be employers to put up an insurance bond for each (illegal alien) worker to guarantee the cost of any needed health care services.

I have always regarded you as the only reasonable county supervisor and respect your well intentioned plan to reduce the county's health care burden. But may I respectfully suggest that your plan reflects naivety. it will have little effect and might even exacerbate the problem. Here's why:

There are already thousands of illegals in L.A. County doing the work that "Americans won't do." So why do we need an L.A. County version of a guest worker program? The truth is that newly arrived illegals do the work that the thousands of illegals already here won't do either. Most Mexican     workers who would come to Los Angeles County for a "fixed period of time for a certain job," would likely forfeit an pay and go AWAL and get a permanent job with an employer who doesn't want to be bonded. Why not, after all, it's legal to be illegal in L.A. County. The "coyote" smuggling fees for Mexicans who want to illegally enter Los Angeles County are now upwards of $1,500. Your plan would simply create an endless flow of even more illegal immigrants who will see it as a cheaper and less dangerous way to get here.

Being married to a former illegal alien (now a proud U.S. citizen) who has three brothers residing in the U.S. illegally, I have some first hand knowledge of the problem.

I should mention that I do not blame those like my brothers-in-law for the problem. The blame goes to politicians like your four colleagues who virtually invite illegals to L.A. County by making it easier for them, e.g. Matricula Consular IDs.

If you want to fix the county health care money problem, you need only to treat illegal aliens who seek medical attention the way American Citizens are treated.

I am retired at age 67 on a fixed income. My medical expenses are covered by the Veteran's Administration and our three county adopted daughters ages 3, 4, and 8, have 100 percent dental and medical expenses covered by MediCal. But my Mexican immigrant wife of ten years does not have any medical coverage. I took her in mid 2001 to one of the county clinics where she was told she needed a hysterectomy and directed her to apply to be admitted to Olive View County Hospital. After a two month wait to get to the top of the hospital admissions waiting list, she was allowed to apply for admission to the hospital. We (our entire family) had to first undergo a series of interviews by several case workers to determine her eligibility to receive free or discounted medical aid.

As the case workers are specialized for the different categories such as financial, medical, etc., we were passed from one case worker to another. They asked us questions and jotted down the answers onto a mountain of forms. We had to produce a myriad of original documents (not copies) including: four months of bank checking statements, court adoption papers for our three minor children, title to our home, title to our car, proof of citizenship for my wife, birth certificates for all five of us, social security numbers for all of us, and more. In the end, we were approved for a reduced fee which amounted to about $600 which we paid.

During the interview with the financial case worker, I leaned over to her and asked in a quiet voice if she asked the same questions of all those other people (I pointed to a large number of non-English speaking people). The case worker turned to me and said candidly that county case workers don't ask them those questions because they are undocumented and can't produce the needed documents and said that she didn't even know if they were giving their right names -- saying further, that county workers are not allowed to ask patients about their citizenship or immigration status. I asked this case worker why my wife was asked about her immigration and citizen status. I interpreted her inability to answer this question to mean that we were profiled as probable legal U.S. residents not privileged to receive the "don't ask, don't tell" treatment. This outraged me. Illegals are being rewarded for not being able to produce the documents that U.S. citizens must. My wife commented to me later that to avoid all the red-tape and the $600 expense, she should have gone in for care disguised as an unmarried illegal alien.

Not only does the county give free medical care to illegal immigrants which is denied to American Citizens, but the county actually has an outreach health-care program targeting illegal immigrants. As you must know, the county advertises free medical services to illegal immigrants. This is made clear by the many county billboards and signs on the back of buses observed last year to encourage illegals to take advantage of the county's free health care. The signs which picture happy children, say In Spanish, "Good news for immigrant families! your family is eligible for health and nutrition programs free or below cost! and the use of this service is not effected by your immigration status" (See attached photo).

I as a Korean war veteran and my wife as a proud naturalized U.S. citizen, find the privileges not available to us that are available to illegal aliens to be offensive, disrespectful, insulting, unfair, and unlawful. But apart from the aforementioned, the county supervisors have been following a policy that will have disastrous consequences.

It is clear that L.A. county's health-care system is in an irreversible meltdown with or without bonding employers. I am sure the supervisors will eventually fix the health care system, but not before they're awakened when all the money's gone, no more federal or state bailouts, no more bond issues, and the budget hits bottom like drunks do before they do something about breaking their drinking addiction.

Hal Netkin

POB 3465
Van Nuys, CA 91406

CC: Members of Board of Supervisors, Al Rantel, Terry Anderson, other unnamed recipients, and posted on