IMMIGRANT HEALTH: INS Says Healthy Families Not A Public Charge
The Immigration and Naturalization Service has clarified that immigrants will not be penalized for enrolling their children in Healthy Families, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports. INS Commissioner Doris Meissner recently sent a letter to Los Angeles County officials "assuring them that a public charge would not be invoked in cases when undocumented parents sign their eligible children up for Healthy Families," according to Miguel Santana, a spokesperson for county Supervisor Gloria Molina. "The INS policy was acting as an impediment. The county counsel's opinion is that signing up the children is not a public charge. So far the numbers of children signed up in the county and the state are quite modest, and we think it has something to do with the fear of the public charge," said Mark Finucane, county director of Health Services. A "public charge," the Daily Bulletin notes, is any government assistance an undocumented resident receives, which is often looked upon negatively when the INS reviews immigrants' resident status. The county Health Services "is looking for ways to inform parents who are undocumented residents that they have nothing to fear from signing their children up." And Finucane will report to the supervisors next month "on how to better get the word out" to eligible families.
Too Much Of A Good Thing?
But if the word gets out to all the eligible families, there might not be enough funds to cover all the children. The state has only set aside enough money to cover 200,000 children, the Daily Bulletin notes. But about 600,000 children statewide -- 425,000 in Los Angeles County alone -- qualify for the health insurance program. "There are a lot of ramifications when you cap the number of kids that can be covered at 200,000 statewide," said Steve Escoboza,