Nebraska lawmaker revives prenatal care debate

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 21, 2013 at 7:05 pm •  Published: March 21, 2013
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"Would you allow a small segment of Nebraska women to experience third-world pregnancies?" she asked.

A Heineman spokeswoman has said the Republican governor supports Janssen's bill. The governor's Medicaid chief testified in favor of it.

Nebraska Medicaid chief Vivianne Chaumont said the state offers Medicaid coverage to pregnant women and children who are legal, permanent residents. Chaumont said the state's expenses didn't increase during the time when the women were ineligible for prenatal care. Women who didn't qualify for prenatal care were still eligible for emergency birth services under Medicaid, she said.

"You can't assume that a Medicaid-covered woman is getting prenatal care, and you cannot assume that a woman who is not covered is not getting prenatal care," Chaumont said. "A lot of people pay for their prenatal care."

Marty Brown, an Omaha spokesman for the group Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, said lawmakers created a "free feeding tube" for illegal immigrants when they passed the measure last year.

"If seems like we're pandering to illegals, and we shouldn't be doing this," Brown said.

On top of that, 25 of the 30 senators who voted for the override are still in the Legislature — a majority that can ensure the bill isn't approved. Several newly elected members have also stated their support for the prenatal care services.

Nebraska is among 15 states that offer taxpayer-funded care directly to the unborn, which have no immigration status in the eyes of law, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The others are Arkansas, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

Janssen's bill was opposed by Nebraska Right to Life, the Nebraska Hospital Association, the Nebraska Catholic Conference, Nebraska Appleseed and Disability Rights Nebraska.

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The bill is LB518