PRENATAL CARE: Davis Preserves Program for Immigrants
Gov. Gray Davis last week ended his silence on his predecessor's attempt to cut off prenatal care to undocumented immigrants, "quietly" signing a budget bill that keeps the service alive, the Los Angeles Times reports. Buried within a budget bill, the provision curtails former Gov. Pete Wilson's efforts to end the program, which has been kept alive by series of interim judicial orders. The new law will lead to the dismissal of two pending lawsuits Davis inherited from the Wilson administration's efforts to promote Proposition 187 and cut off aid to undocumented immigrants. Health care activists and pro-immigrant organizations hailed Davis' action as a "milestone." John Affeldt, an attorney San Francisco-based Public Advocates, said, "This is a tremendous victory for all Californians. When all low-income residents receive prenatal care, lives are saved, communicable diseases are screened, and Medi-Cal costs are greatly reduced." Health care professionals have weighed in throughout the debate, arguing that "denying prenatal care is a shortsighted policy that poses severe health risks while resulting in increased public costs for emergency room aid and other treatment." Supporters of Proposition 187, however, took issue with Davis' decision. Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform said "This is clearly not what the people of California wanted and voted for." The current budget provides $63 million to the program to provide prenatal care for 70,000 Medi-Cal recipients (McDonnell, 7/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.