LINCOLN — The Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee has killed a bill that would have cut off publicly funded prenatal care for the unborn babies of illegal immigrants.
Committee members voted 6-0, with one member abstaining, on the motion to kill Legislative Bill 518.
State Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, who introduced the measure, said Thursday he was disappointed by the vote.
He said he had hoped the committee would give newly elected lawmakers the chance to weigh in on the policy, which was passed over the governor’s veto last year.
“It’s still going to be an issue across Nebraska,” Janssen predicted.
But committee members said it makes fiscal and moral sense to provide care for babies who will be American citizens at birth.
Prenatal care can prevent those babies from being born prematurely or suffering disabilities, which could cost taxpayers much more.
Nebraska provided Medicaid coverage for unborn babies until March 2010, after federal officials notified the state that Medicaid must be based on the woman’s eligibility.
Illegal immigrants are not eligible for public benefits.
The current coverage is for unborn babies but not for their mothers. It is provided through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a state-federal program like Medicaid but which can cover groups not eligible for Medicaid.
Although Gov. Dave Heineman included repeal of the prenatal care program in his budget recommendations, he did not propose repeal legislation.
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