Nebraska governor rejects prenatal care funding for illegal immigrants

Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:25pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) listens to remarks by Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (L) to speak before a National Governors Association dinner at the White House in Washington, February 26, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) listens to remarks by Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (L) to speak before a National Governors Association dinner at the White House in Washington, February 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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(Reuters) - Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman vetoed a proposal to restore Medicaid-funded prenatal care for illegal immigrants on Friday, but the initiative could still survive if the state legislature rejects his move next week.

Nebraska state senators voted 31-15 on Wednesday to restore the program, which was eliminated two years ago after providing prenatal care for decades.

The number of votes in favor was one more than would be needed to override the veto and the Nebraska legislature has one day left in its current session -- next Wednesday -- in which to do so.

"I oppose providing taxpayer benefits to illegal immigrants," Heineman said in his veto letter.

Heineman, who is anti-abortion, also said he had "grave concerns" that some funding could go to abortion provider Planned Parenthood and that Nebraska could become a sanctuary for illegal immigrants because no bordering states offered similar coverage.

About 1,600 low-income women were affected when Nebraska eliminated the program in 2010. About half were illegal immigrants and others were women who lost benefits for failing to comply with all requirements. Coverage was later restored for legal residents and others who do not qualify for Medicaid.

Religious, anti-abortion and health groups have called on Nebraska to restore the coverage, saying it was morally right and fiscally prudent. The state must pay for birth defects and other complications suffered by children who are U.S. citizens upon birth and qualify for taxpayer-funded health care.

Restoring the program would cost about $650,000 in state funds, plus $1.9 million in federal money annually. The tax-funded care has been estimated at $1,500 to $2,000 per mother.

Supporters of the bill have said the $650,000 cost is less than the $800,000 medical bill for one child - paid by Nebraska taxpayers - whose health problems were caused by the lack of prenatal care for an immigrant mother in one case since 2010.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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Comments (16)
Hey rich guy, why don’t you close the emergency rooms too? That would put more money in your greedy pocket.

Apr 13, 2012 7:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
lklem wrote:
The Governor of Nebraska should be complimented. Why should taxpayer dollars go to support and care for illegals in this country. Illegals in many areas are over taxing local economies. Now illegals and other natioalities are trying to get the U.S. honor their respective countries laws. Their laws matter not in the U.S., it is U.S. law that our country is run by. They should not even be allowed to partake of our educational system either.

Apr 13, 2012 8:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
greybees wrote:
This has got to be one of the worst bums of all times.

Apr 13, 2012 8:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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