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April 29, 2007

Reducing Disparities in Health Coverage for Legal Immigrant Children and Pregnant Women

The 1996 legislative battle over welfare reform left many casualties in its wake. Non-citizens were among them. Once eligible for Medicaid coverage on the same terms as citizens, legal immigrants are now restricted from the transfer program for the first five years they are in the country without regard to their indigence or medical needs. Today, nearly half of all low-income immigrant children have no health insurance coverage. Despite improvements in Medicaid and the creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and an overall decrease in uninsured citizen children, the percentage of low-income immigrant children who lack health coverage has climbed dramatically since 1996. Today, not surprisingly, there exists a large and still growing disparity in health insurance coverage between citizen and noncitizen immigrant children.

Leighton Ku, a Senior Fellow of Policy Studies at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, discusses the issue in his report, "Reducing Disparities in Health Coverage for Legal Immigrant Children and Pregnant Women." In the report, Ku examines the origins of the problem, directing his attention in particular to those states that did not maintain "replacement coverage" for legal immigrants during their first five years in the country. In 1996, when many of these states had relatively low rates of immigration, this policy change was less problematic than it is today. Steadily increasing immigration rates in these "new growth" states is creating a growing population of uninsured legal immigrant children and pregnant women. The combination of inadequate living conditions, lack of access to nutritious foods, and limited healthcare threatens the lives of this vulnerable population.

To read the report and Ku's proposals to solve the problem, please visit: http://www.cbpp.org/4-20-07health2.htm
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Posted by VisaLawyer at April 29, 2007 08:31 AM

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