KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Unlike Federal Policy, County Programs Often Use Tax Dollars To Treat Illegal Immigrants

The federal health law prohibits selling health insurance on the marketplaces to people in the country illegally. But counties that offer programs that pay for doctor visits, shots, prescription drugs and lab tests for these immigrants say it's cheaper, easier and safer to offer the services rather than treat them in emergency departments.

The Wall Street Journal: Illegal Immigrants Get Public Health Care, Despite Federal Policy
When federal lawmakers wrote the act overhauling the nation’s health-care system six years ago, they ruled out any possibility of extending health insurance to illegal immigrants. Local officials where many of those immigrants live are treating them anyway. A Wall Street Journal survey of the 25 U.S. counties with the largest unauthorized immigrant populations found that 20 of them have programs that pay for the low-income uninsured to have doctor visits, shots, prescription drugs, lab tests and surgeries at local providers. ... County politicians figure it is cheaper, safer and easier to give basic health services to immigrants who can’t get insurance than to treat them only in the county’s emergency rooms. (Radnofsky, 3/24)

In other health law news —

The Washington Post's Wonkblog: Why Pediatricians Care So Much About The Supreme Court’s Birth Control Case
For the second time in two years, the Supreme Court justices tangled over a question about personal beliefs and birth control: Must employers who are religiously opposed to it cover it in their health plans? A prominent group of pediatricians hopes the answer will be yes. Erecting hurdles to the pill, in this case, could jeopardize the health of America’s children, said Benard Dreyer, president of the the American Academy of Pediatrics. It could even encourage the next Disneyland measles outbreak. ... “There’s no discernible difference between a religious objection to contraception and a religious objection to a vaccine,” said Dreyer. (Paquette, 3/24)

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