February 14, 2012
Delegate Lopez’s Bill to Allow Prenatal Medicaid Coverage for Lawful Immigrant Women Passes the House of Delegates
(Richmond, VA) A bill to allow Prenatal Medicaid and FAMIS coverage for lawful immigrants present in Virginia for less than five years has passed through the House of Delegates by a vote of 99-1. Delegate Lopez introduced an identical bill, HB782, and was added as a Chief Co-Patron when the Republican version of the legislation was introduced in Committee.
“This is a step forward for immigrant families in Virginia,” said Lopez. “Given the negative mood towards the immigrant community in the General Assembly, I am happy to see some positive legislation that will move Virginia forward. This legislation will improve the health of immigrant mothers and children and, at the same time, save the Commonwealth money.”
Virginia’s Medicaid program currently pays for the labor and delivery costs for these immigrants as well as the costs associated with the child once he or she is born. However the prenatal costs are not covered, which leads to a higher long-term cost to Virginia.
According to the Joint Legislative and Audit Review Commission (JLARC), this legislation might actually save Virginia $1.49 in neonatal care for every dollar spent on prenatal care. JLARC also points out that according to a 2005 study, mothers who do not receive prenatal care are three times more likely to deliver prematurely and four times more likely to have a low birth weight baby.
These complications can increase hospital neonatal costs from $1,000 to $2500 per day. In addition to the immediate costs, babies born prematurely and with a low birth weight are more likely to have increased long-term costs due to health, behavioral, and education problems.
This legislation will now go to the State Senate, where a similar bill, SB568, was introduced by State Senator Adam Ebbin. Delegate Lopez has been working closely with Senator Ebbin on this legislation.
###Contact: Jason Stanford804.698.1049DelALopez@house.virginia.gov
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