Hal Netkin, POB 3465, Van Nuys, CA 91407, 818-989-3043, halnet@pacbell.net

July 7, 2003

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky
Board Of Supervisors, County Of L.A.
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

An open letter to Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky

Dear Supervisor Yaroslavsky:

I have been reading in the papers about all of the Los Angeles County financial woes -- the LA Times says that the health care crisis is getting worse -- many emergency rooms are closings causing long waits in other emergency rooms, 20 Ers in LA County have been closed in recent years -- and much of the burden is being placed on senior homeowners who are barely making ends meet.

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 eleven 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 an operation 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, 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 probably being 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, we 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 well known that you are the county's health care mover and shaker. Your hell bent efforts to provide free health care for all of the third world's underprivileged at the expense of American seniors is having the virtual effect of importing poverty. You have played a vital roll in seeing to it that the L.A. County's health-care system go into an irreversible meltdown.

Stop robbing from Senior Citizens to reward illegal aliens.

Hal Netkin