Health Care Bill Advances for Kids Who Are Illegally in US

Health Care Bill Advances for Kids Who Are Illegally in US

By RANDALL CHASE, Associated Press

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A bill providing state taxpayer-funded health care for children who are in the country illegally and ineligible for Medicaid or other federally funded coverage has cleared a House committee.

The Democrat-led committee voted unanimously Wednesday to release the bill for consideration by the full House.

The legislation directs the state Department of Health and Social Services to establish a health care coverage program for children who are living in Delaware without legal permission whose family income is at or below the income guidelines for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Coverage would include hospital, medical, dental, and prescription drug benefits.

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Legislative analysts estimate that about 2,000 children would be eligible for the subsidy program at full annual enrollment, although chief bill sponsor Rep. Krista Griffith of Wilmington said Wednesday that the legislation could affect some 5,000 children.

Griffith described providing taxpayer-subsidized health care to those children as “a moral imperative.” She rejected the argument that providing such coverage will make Delaware a more attractive location for immigrants who are living in the country illegally.

Washington D.C. and at least six states offer taxpayer-subsidized health care to children who are living in the country without legal permission.

For full enrollment of 2,000 children, estimated costs to state taxpayers would be $1.8 million for six months of services in the fiscal year starting July 1. Costs would escalate to about $7.2 million the following year and more than $7.5 million in fiscal 2025. That’s in addition to $500,000 in one-time startup costs and $250,000 annually for administration.

Analysts noted that children covered under the new program would continue to be eligible for the existing 50% federal share of Medicaid coverage for emergency treatment. They estimated state savings for emergency care of $250,000 in the first year and $500,000 annually in each subsequent year.

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