CALIFORNIA: TO DELAY CUTOFF OF PRENATAL CARE
State officials agreed yesterday "to delay a planned cutoffThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
of public prenatal care for thousands of illegal immigrant women
until the issue is reviewed by a federal judge." Gov. Pete
Wilson (R) had announced "plans to cut off the prenatal
assistance as part of the state's compliance " with federal
welfare reform (see AHL 10/15). Opponents of the proposed cutoff
contend that Wilson's plan is "a back-door attempt to implement
Proposition 187," a ban on most public assistance to illegal
immigrants which California voters passed two years ago. LOS
ANGELES TIMES reports that since its passage, most of Proposition
187 has been blocked by U.S. District Court Judge Mariana
WAIT AND SEE: In a telephone conference with Pfaelzer,
state attorneys agreed to delay implementation of the prenatal
benefit cuts "at least through next Wednesday." Pfaelzer gave
the state until then "to submit papers explaining why authorities
should be allowed to proceed." TIMES reports that Wilson, while
not disputing the importance of prenatal care, "has long argued
that California can ill afford it." The state currently spends
about $67 million to provide care to illegal immigrants,
according to the TIMES.
LEADING SUIT: TIMES reports that a coalition of groups, led
by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Mexican
American Legal Defense and Education Fund, asked Pfaelzer
yesterday "to issue a temporary restraining order barring the
planned state cutoff of prenatal care to illegal immigrants"
(McDonnell, 10/16). WASHINGTON POST reports that the suit marks
the "first legal action aimed at blocking the cutoff of medical
or social services to immigrants by a state under either the
welfare reform law" or the immigration law. The ACLU's request
charges that Wilson's order violates the injunction against
Proposition 187 and a state law that requires provision of
"'medically necessary pregnancy-related services' regardless of
immigrant status." Additionally, the ACLU contends that the
prenatal care cutoff "would jeopardize the health of pregnant
women" and their children. The ACLU also said that the cuts
would "dramatically increase public costs when the women and
children are forced to seek emergency medical care." ACLU legal
director Mark Rosenbaum called Wilson's order a "macabre attempt"
that "guarantees infant mortality and birth defects for citizen
children in the service of blatantly political objectives"