174347 Fair distribution of healthcare resources to illegal immigrants

Monday, October 27, 2008

Julie Aultman, PhD , Behavioral Sciences, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, Rootstown, OH
In light of recent political debates, the distribution of healthcare resources to illegal immigrants is a growing public concern with no clear political or economic resolution. Nonetheless, from ethical and public health perspectives, it is apparent that healthcare resources need to be fairly distributed among all persons living in the United States regardless of their illegal status. There have been several state propositions to prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving healthcare resources, including emergent care, as well as propositions for healthcare professionals to act as gatekeepers, responsible for recording and reporting patients' illegal status upon entering a healthcare institution (e.g., free clinic). Although most, if not all, of these propositions have been rejected, there is the possibility that future state and federal legislation will prohibit the distribution of healthcare resources to illegal immigrants. When turning to public health ethics, it is apparent that health care is a basic human right each person, regardless of citizenship, should have an opportunity to receive. Difficult questions, however, need to be answered. For example, how much (and what kinds of) healthcare resources should be fairly distributed among illegal immigrants given the constraints of availability and accessibility of goods? In this presentation, I will disseminate important public health and ethical principles based in theories of justice to answer such questions. I will also show that without public health ethics, political and economic arguments circumvent the prescribed injustice when illegal immigrants are prevented from receiving basic healthcare goods.

Learning Objectives:
Identify public health and ethical principles that support fair distribution of resources among illegal immigrants. To discuss availability and accessibility of healthcare resources that should be allocated.

Keywords: Access to Health Care, Immigrants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a trained ethicist in issues of healthcare justice
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.