Neb. Lawmakers Override Gov. Heineman's Veto, Restoring Prenatal Care Coverage for Undocumented Immigrants

April 19, 2012 — Nebraska lawmakers on Wednesday overrode Gov. Dave Heineman's (R) veto of legislation (LB 599) that would restore prenatal care coverage for low-income, undocumented immigrants, the AP/U-T San Diego reports (AP/U-T San Diego, 4/18). The 30-16 vote came on the final day of the legislative session. Lawmakers had tried to pass a similar bill two years ago but lacked sufficient votes (Hammel, Omaha World-Herald, 4/19).

In 2010, Nebraska ended Medicaid coverage of prenatal care for nearly 1,600 low-income women. The state later restored the coverage for legal residents and women who would not otherwise qualify for Medicaid (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/13).

The law, which will take effect in three months, will restore prenatal care coverage for about 1,100 undocumented immigrants who meet low-income guidelines and demonstrate that they live in the state.

Supporters of the bill sought to frame it as "pro-life" legislation that would also save taxpayer dollars. State projections show the law will cost about $560,000 in state funds and $1.9 million in federal funding annually. The cost to the state is less than what taxpayers and hospitals paid for just two previous cases of extended neonatal intensive care for infants whose mothers who did not receive prenatal care. "Fiscally, this make sense," state Sen. Mike Flood said.

"I strongly disagree with their decisions," Heineman said in response to the vote. He added, "Providing preferential treatment to illegals while increasing taxes on legal Nebraska citizens is misguided, misplaced and inappropriate" (Omaha World-Herald, 4/19).