Washington State Proposal Would Increase Coverage Eligibility for Undocumented Children
Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) this week proposed expanding state health coverage eligibility to include more children of undocumented immigrants, the Seattle Times reports. The proposal would raise the annual family income eligibility level from 100% of the federal poverty level to 250%. Since Gregoire reinstated the program in 2005, about 8,300 children have enrolled. The state hopes to enroll 14,000 children in the program. State officials have said that more children have not enrolled because families do not meet the income requirement. According to the Times, Republicans have criticized the proposal, saying that it was not a change recently agreed to by the governor's bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Costs and Access. State House Health Care and Wellness Committee ranking member Bill Hinkle (R) and state Sen. Linda Evans Parlette (R) said that the panel could not reach a consensus on providing coverage for children of undocumented immigrants and that Gregoire's proposal would hinder other efforts to develop a bipartisan plan for state health system change. Cassie Sauer, a spokesperson for the Washington State Hospital Association, said it would be much less expensive to include the children in the state program and give them preventive care than to require hospitals to treat the children when they have medical emergencies (Thomas, Seattle Times, 1/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.