Health Care Coverage Should Be Extended to Undocumented Immigrant Children in Iowa, Opinion Piece Says
The Iowa Legislature this year needs to include the "uninsured, undocumented immigrant child" in legislation "guaranteeing all eligible children health insurance by 2011," Sen. Jack Hatch (D-Iowa), chair of the Senate Health & Human Services Budget committee, and Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, write in a Des Moines Register opinion piece. The state Legislature last year approved legislation that guarantees eligible children health insurance by 2011. According to Hatch and Bolkcom, undocumented immigrant children were "left out" of the plan. They ask, "What does the state hope to achieve by promoting the perpetuation of a subclass of sick kids within our state, increasing the costs that are associated with disease and illness, all while putting our own kids at risk?"
They continue, "Studies have shown that allowing [undocumented immigrants] access to primary care health services is the best and cheapest way to keep them healthy." Hatch and Bolkcom write, "We are already providing health services to undocumented children in the emergency rooms of our community hospitals," which "is the single most expensive venue to provide health care services. It is far more cost-effective to provide care in an organized fashion."
"Through the proposal that will be presented this legislative session, we hope to join the ranks of other states that have decided to provide access to health care programs to undocumented immigrant children," Hatch and Bolkcom write. "There is no justifiable purpose in denying health care coverage for these kids" (Hatch/Bolkcom, Des Moines Register, 1/12).