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Neb. Legislature Gains More Supporters of Prenatal Care Coverage for Immigrants

Neb. Legislature Gains More Supporters of Prenatal Care Coverage for Immigrants

November 9, 2012 — The outcome of Nebraska's legislative election likely bolstered the position of lawmakers who support public funding of prenatal care for low-income, undocumented immigrants, the Omaha World-Herald reports.

Supporters of the prenatal care law (LB 599) -- which was enacted in the spring over Gov. Dave Heineman's (R) veto -- gained at least two additional allies in the state Legislature in Tuesday's election. Meanwhile, a few candidates who opposed the law lost their races (Hammel, Omaha World-Herald, 11/8).

The law restored prenatal care coverage for about 1,100 undocumented immigrants who met low-income guidelines and demonstrated that they live in the state. Supporters of the bill sought to frame it as "pro-life" legislation that would also save taxpayer dollars (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/19).

However, Heineman argued that charities and religious groups, not the government, should provide services for undocumented immigrants. The Heineman administration's budget request for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services proposes to withdraw all funding for the law, which is estimated to require $650,000 in state funds and $1.9 million in federal funds.

State Sen. Brad Ashford said the results of the election make it harder for opponents of the law to repeal it. "It's going to be a more progressive Legislature," he said, adding, "The voters decided to go with candidates in very contested races who are very concerned about funding of health care and education" (Omaha World-Herald, 11/8).