Low-income prenatal care program clears second round

Senators gave second-round approval April 5 to a bill that would establish a program to offer prenatal services to low-income women regardless of immigration status.

Under LB599, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell, the state Department of Health and Human Services would be required to establish a program under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) solely for the unborn children of mothers who are ineligible for coverage under Medicaid.

Eligibility for service would be determined using an income budgetary methodology of no greater than 185 percent of the federal poverty guideline.

Benefits would include:
• laboratory testing;
• outpatient hospital care;
• pharmaceuticals and prescription vitamins;
• radiology, ultrasound and other necessary imaging;
• services related to conditions that could complicate the pregnancy; and
• professional fees and hospital costs related to labor and delivery.

The bill would require the department, within 30 days after passage of LB599, to seek federal approval of a state plan amendment or waiver for Nebraska’s program.

Opponents of the bill offered a series of amendments to LB599 during select file debate.

An amendment offered by Ogallala Sen. Ken Schilz that would have required a pregnant woman to provide an attestation of immigration status prior to obtaining prenatal care under the bill was defeated on a vote of 11-12.

Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont offered an amendment that contained provisions of LB221, a bill he introduced that would have required screening for controlled substances of certain recipients of public benefits. The amendment was defeated on a 15-13 vote.

An amendment offered by Omaha Sen. John Nelson that would have striken all references to immigration status in LB599 was defeated 15-14.

After withdrawal of several additional pending amendments, senators advanced the bill to final reading by a vote of 29-16.

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