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Deadlocked South Dakota Legislators have made final decision regarding providing prenatal care for immigrants

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Deadlocked Legislators have made final decision regarding providing prenatal care for immigrants

Last year around this time there was much debate about possible prenatal care that should be made available to women who are undocumented immigrants. A year later, nothing has been resolved and the issue is back in front of legislators who believe the outcome is just as uncertain.

Goal is to prevent health complications for immigrants

195 births later, the House of Representatives is looking at their budget to see if there are any funds available for prenatal care for immigrants. The average cost of prenatal care for a woman is about $3,400 in South Dakota and about 80 times more in other states. If the state chooses to help with these costs, it does not leave an entire group of women without healthcare. Also the goal of expanding prenatal services to immigrants is to help prevent premature births which can lead to health complications for mothers and children.

Statistics show preventive healthcare is cheaper in the long run

One of the problems with passing the bill is granting aid for this is Medicaid and is not available to individuals who are in the U.S. illegally. However, children who are born on U.S. soil are eligible for benefits from government programs. A doctor who is sponsoring the bill is urging the legislature to still pass the bill to give mother’s healthcare because statistics show this will decrease expenditures in the long run. Rep. Scott Eckland says that passing the bill “…does not make a statement on either side of the immigration debate. I am not for illegal immigration.”

However, he makes it a point to say he supports healthcare for all regardless of their legal status. All seven members of the health committee agree to expand Medicaid coverage only for pregnancy-related matters and would not pay for any additional health problems. Sen. Phil Jensen says, “We really do not know how much this is going to cost,” he said. “I think that would be a right move.”

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