FEBRUARY 19, 2010
On the heels of a federal crackdown, lawmakers in Nebraska are scrambling to pass legislation that will allow pregnant illegal immigrant women to continue receiving free, taxpayer-financed medical care.
The state has for decades offered the costly perk to pregnant illegal aliens, whose “anchor babies” are automatically United States citizens. However, the federal government recently notified the state that it was illegally determining eligibility for publicly-funded medical care known as Medicaid.
Nebraska has skirted federal guidelines by using the illegal immigrants’ yet-to-be-born children to qualify for the medical care otherwise not available to undocumented aliens. Nebraska women who are legal U.S. residents will continue receiving Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the poor, once the state follows the federal guidelines but illegal immigrants won’t.
As the cutoff date approaches, legislators in the Cornhusker State are frantically working to pass a law that will allow the state’s estimated 1,000 pregnant illegal immigrants to keep their public medical coverage. The deadline is in early March and a state senator from Lincoln, Kathy Campbell, has introduced a measure to create a new program—funded by both the state and the federal government—aimed at restoring the coverage for illegal immigrants.
Under the proposed law, Nebraska will create a special standalone program under an existing federal children’s insurance plan that will allow the illegal alien mothers to receive prenatal-care coverage similar to when the state violated federal Medicaid rules. Of course, U.S. taxpayers will fund the project.
At least one Nebraska senator, John Nelson, questioned the measure’s fiscal impact and wondered if the state provides care for those here illegally, how many more will come to Nebraska to take advantage of the program. Another senator (Charlie Jansen) pointed out that illegal immigrants will continue using state benefits until the problem is addressed by lawmakers.
Fourteen states—including California, New York and Texas—already have similar programs that provide illegal immigrants with free government-funded medical care when they are pregnant. Once their anchor babies are born, the family receives a plethora of public assistance including food stamps and monthly welfare checks.
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