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Neb. votes to restore prenatal care for illegal immigrants

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Neb. votes to restore prenatal care for illegal immigrants

Governor says he will veto Medicaid bill

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Nebraska lawmakers voted to restore prenatal Medicaid for illegal immigrants, but Gov. Dave Heineman promised to veto the bill, Reuters reported.

The state legislature voted 31-15 today in favor of bill 599.

In 2010, Nebraska eliminated the program to help expectant mothers, a decision that affected about 1,600 low-income women, Reuters said.

Half of those women were illegal immigrants, while others didn’t fully meet the criteria.

Nebraska eliminated the care because federal regulations said to base coverage on the mother, whereas the state was basing coverage on the children.

Those who voted for the bill said it makes financial and moral sense to fund expectant mothers, Nebraska Radio Network reported.

Sen. Kathy Campbell said it’s logical to fund healthy mothers rather than neglect them, and then pay more when babies develop complications.

“Prenatal care matters and it matters for a lifetime,” Campbell said. “We spend funds for their labor and delivery. We spend funds if they have complications and we spend funds for long-time and long-term health conditions.”

Campbell sponsored the bill.

Because the governor has five days to study the bill, a public relations battle has begun, the Omaha World-Herald said.

State senators plan a series of press conferences this week to explain why they supported the bill.

“I want to make sure that both sides have an opportunity to present information,” State Sen. Mike Flood said. “I respect people's right to disagree on this issue. It's not a black-and-white issue.”

Heinmann suggested taxpayers don’t want to fund illegal immigration, and that churches and charities could provide the care, according to NRN.

He also said Nebraska would become a hotbed for illegal immigrants, who can’t get the same care in neighboring states.

“Now, I want to be very clear,” he said, NRN reported. “I support prenatal care and, in the case of the illegals, it could be done by churches, private charities, private individuals, but don’t use taxpayer funds.”

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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