Cost of Washington State Plan To Insure All Children Higher Than Expected, Partly Due to Number of Immigrant Children To Be Covered
A program that will expand health care to all children in Washington state will cost almost twice the amount predicted and provide coverage mainly for undocumented immigrant children, according to new state data, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. Previous estimates had determined that the program, which goes into effect on July 22, would insure 6,680 undocumented immigrant children, but now this figure is estimated at more than 16,000. The increase was a result of unanticipated numbers of noncitizen siblings of citizen children now covered by the program, according to Kirsta Glenn, executive director of the state's Caseload Forecast Council.
The impact of the increased number of eligible children is close to $16 million more than the $29 million estimate, a 54% cost increase. Of the total $45 million, $12 million will be spent covering U.S. children who previously were uninsured, and $25 million will be spent covering undocumented immigrant children. About $8 million will be spent on children who are citizens and are covered by other insurance programs, according to the new figures.
The increase in cost will be offset by $19 million in new federal funds, and the "net impact to the [state] budget is a $6 million increase," according to Victor Moore, director of the state Office of Financial Management (McGann, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/22).
Clinics Treating Immigrant Children Featured on ABC
ABC's "World News": The program on Sunday examined health clinics that provide care for uninsured immigrant children. Some clinics, such as the Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles County, Calif., provide low-cost care with funding through patient copayments, donations, in-kind contributions and government funding. Groups that oppose providing health care for undocumented immigrants maintain that "health care for illegal immigrants and their kids only encourages more illegal immigration," "World News" reports. As an alternate approach to government-funded programs, some winemakers in Napa Valley, Calif., have raised millions of dollars for Clinic Olé, a health clinic with Spanish-speaking physicians that offers medical and dental services regardless of immigration status. Supporters said providing such clinics provides a less-costly alternative to emergency department care. The "World News" segment includes comments from Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Integration Reform; Peter McCrea of Stony Hill Vineyards, which contributes to Clinic Olé; Beatrice Bostick, executive director of Clinic Olé; and patients receiving care at the Venice Family Clinic (Marquez, "World News," ABC, 6/24).
Video and expanded ABC News coverage are available online.