The following summarizes news coverage of efforts in Alabama and Florida to address immigrants' access to health care.
• Alabama: The Joint Patriotic Immigration Commission on Wednesday discussed ways to address undocumented immigrants' access to public services, including health care, the Decatur Daily News reports. According to Don Williamson, director of the Alabama Department of Public Health, ensuring that immigrants -- undocumented or documented -- have access to preventive health services, such as vaccinations and prenatal care, can reduce costs related to serious health problems that could develop later or the spread of infections to other residents. Williamson urged the commission not to enforce restrictions on such services. State Rep. Micky Hammon (R), who serves on the commission, said the commission should consider limits to undocumented immigrants' access to services other than health care.
• Florida: State lawmakers have released a budget proposal that would limit how long Medicaid will pay for hospitals stays of legal residents who are not citizens, according to the Tampa Tribune. Florida has used state funds to pay for hospital services beyond federal limits, but state lawmakers have decided to go back to covering hospital care at the federal minimum, the Tribune reports. Hospital officials and immigrant advocates maintain that the plan could endanger patients' health and increase the likelihood the patient would be readmitted to the hospital. In response, lawmakers on Tuesday proposed to alter the definition of when a patient is "stabilized," the point at which Medicaid will stop paying for hospital care for certain non-citizens. Under the proposal, Medicaid would continue to pay for care if a patient is in the intensive care unit and if a physician determines that a longer stay is required to prevent readmission within 48 hours. Lawmakers will vote on the proposed budget Friday.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation