PRENATAL CARE: State Moves To Cut Aid To Illegal Immigrants
Gov. Pete Wilson yesterday announced that the state will end subsidized prenatal care for illegal immigrants beginning March 1. The announcement comes one week after the state appellate court "allowed him to implement the ban while its legality is challenged," the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Rojas, 1/30). Under the plan, any new illegal immigrant applications to Medi-Cal for prenatal assistance will be refused as of March 1. The approximately 70,000 current recipients who lack legal status will be denied their subsidies beginning April 1, (Los Angeles Times, 1/30).
Mothers In Arms
Wilson has been "trying to end prenatal care for more than a year, arguing that he is bound by the 1996 federal welfare reform law that requires states to end benefits to illegal immigrants" (Chronicle, 1/30). In an editorial, the Los Angeles Times says that "Wilson has gained a pyrrhic victory in his ongoing, cold and shortsighted effort to deny state-funded pregnancy care to illegal immigrants." It says that "Californians will be paying for a pound of cure rather than an ounce of prevention. What, for example, is the practical effect of this action, beyond making the governor appear tough on illegal immigration? Study after study has shown that mothers who do not receive prenatal care are more likely to give birth to sickly, low-weight infants. These children -- American citizens by birth -- will be delivered at California hospitals and clinics, at sometimes staggering intensive-care costs that are eventually passed on to all state residents" (1/30). The state faces "two separate court challenges that could result in the implementation date being pushed back once again," the Times reports (1/30). Attorneys representing California women and health organizations have "filed a separate challenge in Los Angeles Superior Court" and say "they will seek a temporary restraining order" on the ban (Chronicle, 1/30).
The California Primary Care Association said yesterday that "in defiance" of Wilson's ban, it is directing its 250 member clinics to continue providing prenatal care to all patients. Carmela Castellano, CEO of the CPCA, said, "Our message to our member clinics is clear and simple: Women should continue to seek prenatal care and CPCA clinics should continue to provide that care" (CPCA release, 1/29).