Lawmakers seek to restore health care to immigrants

Busch, Miller decry cuts by state in Medicaid for pregnant women, children

July 09, 2005|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

The leaders of the General Assembly requested a hearing yesterday to explore ways to continue care for some of the immigrant children who lost Medicaid coverage because of Ehrlich administration budget cuts.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch sent a letter to the chairmen of their budgeting committees yesterday, questioning the wisdom of the $7 million cut in Medicaid services for low- income, legal immigrant children and pregnant women. The cut took effect with the new fiscal year July 1.

Maryland had previously provided coverage for those immigrants. But as part of its effort to contain rapidly escalating Medicaid costs, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. cut the program from his budget for fiscal 2006.

Administration officials said that, despite the cut, overall Medicaid rolls have grown since Ehrlich was elected.

Lawmakers attempted to restore part of the funding to maintain prenatal care for pregnant immigrant women, but administration officials said they believe the legislature's request exceeded its budgeting authority and was not binding.

Busch and Miller wrote yesterday that the cuts make little sense in the long term.

"We question the rationale behind the administration's apparent refusal to restore this program cut and are concerned that it will ultimately cost taxpayers, impacted families, community health care providers and the state much more than the $7 million in estimated savings," Busch and Miller wrote.

The lawmakers wrote that physicians, hospitals and other health care providers need more guidance on how their practices and patients will be affected and asked the chairmen of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and House Appropriations Committee to investigate whether care could be continued for children being treated for illness or disease.

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