HAL NETKIN, POB 3465, Van Nuys, CA 91407
Tel 818-989-2201, Fax: 818-989-1905 -- LAwatchdog@pacbell.net
Deputy District Attorney
210 West Temple Street, Suite 18000
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3210
May 17, 2004
Dear Ms. Maurizi:
In response to a Public Information Request letter to Fred Leaf, L.A. County Chief Operating Officer, in which I asked how many women admitted into the county hospital to give birth had social security numbers, he indicated that the County does not have a database that records such information.
Leaf's information was puzzling to me, as his response conflicts with the information my wife was required to provide when she was admitted to Olive View Hospital.
I am retired at age 68 on a fixed income. My medical expenses are covered by the Veteran's Administration and our three county adopted daughters ages 4, 5, and 9, have 100 percent dental and medical expenses covered by Medi-Cal. But my wife of eleven years, an immigrant from Mexico (now a proud U.S. citizen) does not have any medical coverage.
In 2001, my wife had to have surgery. Not being covered by any health plan, she went to one of the county clinics and was transferred to Olive View County Hospital for the operation. But before being admitted, we were interviewed by a case worker to determine my wife's eligibility to receive free or discounted medical aid.
I have attached a copy of a fax sent to me on approximately April 4, 2001 from Olive View case worker Susan Veklotz (the date stamp on the fax, Dec. 13, 2001, is in error), asking for the following information: form MC13 Statement of Citizenship (copy attached), bank statements for two accounts for February and March of 2001, and my wife's alien card and social security card.
The above said information was supplementary to information which my wife had already provided which consisted of copies of the trust deed to our house, the title to our car, the adoption papers for our three adopted children, a copy of my wife's naturalization document, and the social security numbers for myself and each of our three children.
I leaned over to Veklotz and asked her 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 they can't produce the needed documents -- saying further that she didn't even know if they were giving their right names. Moreover, she said that county workers are not allowed to ask patients about their citizenship or immigration status. But when I asked Veklotz why my wife was asked about her immigration and citizenship status, she couldn't answer. I could only conclude that the county health system administration discriminates against citizens through profiling. My wife commented to me later that to avoid all the red-tape and the $600 we paid, she should have gone in for care disguised as an unmarried illegal alien.
Section D, of form MC13 asks if the applicant has a Social Security number. And says further that Aliens who are not in "satisfactory immigration status," and who do not have a SSN, can still get restricted Medi-Cal if they meet all eligibility requirements. Of course since the county cannot by law discriminate against patients based on ethnic or social profiling, it must be a "given" that "all" patients, regardless of ethnic or social status, are supposed to provide citizenship and immigration status information when being admitted to the hospital. Surely, the Department of Health Services in Los Angeles County (presumably in all California counties) must maintain a database of records containing MC13 information which it must provide to the Federal Government and the State of California, the principal funding providers of Medi-Cal -- thus I believe there is a conflict between the so called federal law which prohibits asking patients' immigration and/or citizenship status and the information required by form MC13.
In December of 2003, after having established that the Department of Health Services does in fact keep records of patients admitted who can or cannot provide social security numbers, I made another information request of Fred Leaf under the California Public Records Act. This time, I asked Leaf to provide data for the past three years, of the exact number (not a percentage) of patients who, when admitted to county hospitals for any reason, could not provide social security numbers, and of the number of those patients who could provide social security numbers. In addition, I asked that he explain why my County Supervisor, Zev Yaroslavsky, has repeatedly told his constituents that it is a federal law that county employees are not allowed to ask citizenship or immigration status of patients, when in fact it is a requirement!
Repeated letters and phone calls to Zev Yaroslavsky to obtain the information I am seeking have been ignored. I can only conclude that Leaf and Yaroslavsky are trying to hide information with the hopes that if I am ignored long enough, I will give up. It is for that reason that I now come to you for help in uncovering what appears to be information that Leaf and Yaroslavsky don't want made public -- information that would prove that the county discriminates against citizens.
I am not sure who or what agency should investigate this matter, so I am writing you as a member of L.A. County's District Attorney's office in the hopes that you can help the citizens of the county. If this is not the D.A.'s issue, please advise to whom I should write.
I look forward to your response.