Lopez Bill: Prenatal Care for Recent Legal Immigrants

by ARLnow.com January 18, 2012 at 10:45 am 2,929 34 Comments

Newly-elected delegate Alfonso Lopez (D) has introduced a bill that would provide prenatal care for recent legal immigrants.

Low-income women in their first five years of lawful residence in the United States are eligible for a number of pregnancy services under Virginia’s Medicaid system, including payment of labor and delivery costs and costs associated with the child once he or she is born. Prenatal costs, however, are not covered. Del. Lopez’s bill would change that.

“Prenatal care can reduce maternal deaths, miscarriages, birth defects, low birth weights, and other preventable problems,” Lopez said in a statement. “Women who receive no prenatal care are three and a half times more likely to have a low birth weight baby and nearly three times as likely to give birth prematurely as other pregnant women.”

“For every dollar we spend on prenatal care, it is estimated that we will get back 150% of the funding due to reduced neonatal costs,” Lopez noted. “Providing this coverage is both the right thing to do and the fiscally responsible thing to do. I encourage my colleagues in the House of Delegates to join me in supporting this legislation.”

Similar legislation has been introduced by Richmond-area delegate John O’Bannon (R) and Sen Adam Ebbin (D).

  • novasteve

    Aren’t legal immigrants supposed to NOT be public charges as a condition of their status?

    • North Pershing Drive

      Yes, that is what I believe too. I came here in 2009 (from western Europe), and currently have a conditional green card. From what I read, not having a job can be a reason for not getting a permanent green card.

      From one immigrant to another; how about you plan a little bit ahead and and get your finances in order before you give birth?

      • novasteve

        I asked that too but they wouldn’t approve my post.

        It’s a huge sign that you shouldn’t be having kids if you need others to pay for it.

        • dk

          ITA. If you can’t afford to care for your children properly, you should have an abortion. Right?

          • KalashniKEV


          • bringmetheyuppies

            double yes!

      • drax

        Sure, except you can’t always plan your finances perfectly, or your pregnancies.

        • Zoning Victim

          Preventing pregnancies in not difficult in the least. That obviously doesn’t mean that we should condemn the baby, but let’s not pretend that a large number of the people in this program got pregnant and then just happened to fall on hard times or were all using birth control that failed them.

  • Rob G

    Yes. Whether or not it would save money spent on neonatal care in the long run is not a valid argument. They should not be taking taxpayer money from the commonwealth if the terms of their immigration state that they are not to be public charges. It opens the door wide open for VA to pay for everything. If they want free stuff, send them to Casa de Maryland.

    • drax

      So you guys want all non-citizens out of Medicaid altogether?

      • OX4

        Oh Drax, so naive. Medicaid should be completely abolished for everyone, not just legal illegals. The only procedure that should be subsidized by our federal overlords is the insertion of handguns into the womb so the fetus can protect itself against terrorists who hate us for our freedom.

        • drax

          Wow, I am naive. Thanks for explaining it.

          Wouldn’t you have to stick the gun in with the barrel facing outward for that to work? Sounds…awkward.

          • dk

            That’s why we have belly buttons, of course.

  • KalashniKEV

    How many kids is it possible to have in 5 years?

    • novasteve

      6.6 kids if they weren’t premature. More if they are premature.

      • That’s if you’re doing it one at a time. Realistically, if you’re trying, I’d say the number could easily be 10 or 12.

  • TGEoA

    As much as I’m opposed to illegals (not really), if we are paying for post natal care already, then paying for prenatal makes sense purely on a cost standpoint.

    • novasteve

      This isn’t about illegals, it’s about legals who are required by federal law to NOT BE PUBLIC CHARGES.

      This law would be illegal, preempted by federal law.

      • Justice

        You’re wrong, look it up.

    • Justice

      True, plus the focus of this bill is really on the health of infant children, who are blameless in this matter.

      • TGEoA

        Yes, but it’s cheaper to make sure the kid is born healthy so it doesn’t spend extra days in the hospital.

  • roquer

    It’s one step from providing this from legal immigrants to illegal aliens. This has to be the angle, otherwise a Democrat would not have introduced it……unless of course, it’s a lie and the Dem just wants credit for something already provided.

    • zzzzz

      Except a Republican co-sponsored similar legislation in the Senate.

  • Sam

    For everyone talking about public charge, please review the USCIS’s website specifically about public charge:


    Specifically, the section titled “Benefits Not Subject to Public Charge Consideration”, which includes Medicaid and CHIP.

    • OX4


      “In determining inadmissibility, USCIS defines “public charge”as an individual who is likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.””

      So becoming pregnant within “the first five years of lawful residence in the United States” has nothing to do with this.

    • dk

      Please note: Regardless of whether one is born in the US or acquires citizenship, in most states Medicaid coverage is available ONLY to low-income underage children and their parents, disabled people, and the elderly. Thus the desire to provide coverage for prenatal care for pregnant women who otherwise would have no health insurance.

      • dk

        Sorry, I left out an important point: Pregnant women can qualify for Medicaid coverage *except* legal immigrants during their first five years of residency.

  • Louise

    Nice work, Delegate Lopez. As he says, “For every dollar we spend on prenatal care, it is estimated that we will get back 150% of the funding due to reduced neonatal costs.” In other words, this saves us money.

  • Always Right

    Birth Control is free at the Health Dept. Why are they having kids when they can’t even afford the prenatal care? Who will pay for them the rest of their lives?……let me guess!

    • Ivy

      I guess the anti-choicers will pay for the children people can’t afford. After all, they are right there terrorizing anyone who wants an abortion and right there if its time to pull the plug on a corpse kept alive on a breathing machine, so I assume that if they are that concerned with other people’s affairs that they will gladly support someone else’s child.

    • Louise

      Good point. Please share with us what you’re doing to help people make better decisions about using birth control–would love to hear it.

    • Zoning Victim

      I’m completely against importing poor people without the skills to find a good, middle class job and believe that we desperately need to change our immigration practices, but asking someone not to have a baby because they’re poor isn’t going to accomplish anything. The desire to have children is deeply ingrained in the instincts of all animals; human beings are no exception. Poor people have been having babies and getting by since the beginning of time. Whether or not we should be paying for poor people’s healthcare, what level of support is appropriate and who should get it are important questions but very different from the question of whether or not poor people should have kids in the first place. People are going to have children whether they can afford prenatal care or not and whether these prenatal healthcare programs exist or not, and there is nothing we can do about that; it is their right to have children. The only way anyone is going to wait for prosperity to come their way to have a child is if they can see themselves being prosperous at some relatively close point in time. It is it’s very difficult for a poor, uneducated/unskilled, non-English speaking adult to come here and become a middle class American in a few years (if at all).

      • allie

        Before you start slamming people for their lack of english skills, you might want to review your posts prior to hitting the “submit” button.

      • hum!

        As a older women who loves children and chose not to have any because of my financial situation I do not feel that it is unrealistic to ask people to not have children if they can not afford them. Yes, I do now and probably will always will regret not having children but I knew, even as a young American, that it was not right to bring children into this world if I could not afford to have them or take care of them. To think that legals or illegals would expect America to pay for “anything” for them is outrageous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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