Kristin Esparza" />
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Friday, September 29, 2023


Haitians made to pay bill with lives

On Monday, the U.S. Army resumed flights to transport severely injured Haitians to Florida for medical care.

The flights had been suspended after Florida Gov. Charlie Crist requested federal aid to alleviate the cost that was being absorbed by the state; the hospitals receiving the patients wanted to know who would pay for the care. Shortly following the request, flights were stopped and now no one wants to take responsibility for making the call to stop them.

Army Maj. James Lowe told the New York Times, “The places they were being taken, without being specific, were not willing to continue to receive those patients without a different arrangement being worked out by the government to pay for the care.”

It seems that even in the worst possible conditions, the American health care system is more interested in the value of the dollar than in the value of a human life.

For more than a century, the CIA has been involved in a series of covert operations in Haiti that either resulted in or perpetuated existing corruption within the island nation. This involvement prevented the establishment of a successful democracy and hindered the economic growth of a country whose Gross Domestic Product is 2,000 times less than that of the U.S.

For the U.S. to even temporarily halt aid to the Haitian people is deplorable, because in short, we owe it to them.

Natural disaster victims with spinal cord injuries, burns on the majority of their bodies and paralysis should not be left to suffer, or worse, die, because the government was not sure who was going to pick up the tab. It is not a matter of failing to provide care to Americans at the expense of caring for Haitians, or overrunning an already bogged down health care system with new patients.

To date, there are less than 1,000 Haitian earthquake victims in U.S. hospitals.

Crist’s question about where the funding would come from is legitimate, but simply asking a question should not have resulted in the unnecessary suffering and death that undoubtedly occurred during the five days that our leaders took to figure out the answer.

The government scrambled to respond to a disaster after it occurred rather than developing a plan beforehand.

The Department of Health and Human Services ultimately released funds from the National Disaster Medical System to aid those most in need. Countless American charitable organizations stepped up to offer funds to help with medical and other expense and hospitals around the country volunteered their beds.

We should all be proud that America stepped up and provided aid to those most in need, but also disappointed that even one person could have suffered while bureaucrats worked out the logistical details.

The government must learn to help those in need first and work out the details later. As a nation, we need a plan for doing so in the first place.

Kristin Esparza is a history senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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