Let’s talk about using a political stick to beat the crap out of people who need help.
Under a new federal policy, children born in the United States to illegal immigrants with low incomes will no longer be automatically entitled to health insurance through Medicaid, Bush administration officials said Thursday.
Illegal immigrants generally do not have access to Medicaid*, although there are some exceptions for emergencies, including labor and delivery. In the past, if a woman has received such treatment, her baby (who is a US citizen by virtue of being born here) has been eligible to receive benefits for its first year of life.
*Medicaid is administered by the states, but funded in part by the federal government. It’s frequently the one of the largest part of state budgets. However, the new policy comes down from a federal law which aims to get tougher on Medicaid fraud by illegal immigrants who wrongfully claim citizenship.
Under the new policy, parents must file an application for benefits on behalf of the child and provide a copy of the birth certificate to obtain subsequent treatment, which can take weeks. That is, if the parents aren’t too scared to talk for fear of endangering their own illegal status.
While the parents are filing the application, there can be delays which can be devastating to infants. In the first year of life, infants need immunizations and regular check-ups. The importance of preventative care for babies is huge, and it seem unconscionable to put up roadblocks to accessing care. Regardless of their parents’ status, these infants are citizens and deserve treatment accordingly.
Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law at George Washington University, said: “The new policy reflects a tortured reading of the new law and is contrary to the language of the 1984 statute, which Congress did not change. The whole purpose of the earlier law, passed with bipartisan support, was to make sure that a baby would not have a single day’s break in coverage from the date of birth through the first year of life.”
Culture of life, indeed.
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