One of the most controversial votes in the Nebraska Legislature this spring was lawmakers’ dramatic override of Gov. Dave Heineman’s veto of the prenatal care bill.
That bill will provide taxpayer-funded prenatal care for low-income women who are in the country illegally — a resumption of a decades-long policy that was ended two years ago when the federal government told the state it had to fund it in a different way.
That same issue confronted Massachusetts in 2003, and then-Gov. Mitt Romney took an entirely different course than Heineman, an early and faithful supporter of the presumptive GOP nominee for president this year. Romney, in 2003, supported changing the program so that prenatal care could continue.
That may make for an odd coupling during Romney’s visit to Omaha today.
Heineman has been consistent in his view that illegal immigrants do not warrant taxpayer-funded benefits, even if those benefits might help a child (who will automatically become a U.S. citizen upon birth) be born healthy and without life-long birth defects.
The Nebraska governor has also been an outspoken critic of President Obama’s health-care law, which is similar to an insurance-mandate adopted in Massachusetts when Romney was governor.
We’ll see if those divergent stances come up today.
Meanwhile, this what then-U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said in 2003 when Massachusetts joined four other states in taking advantage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) program to provide pre-natal services (the step Nebraska took this year).
”This new coverage will give thousands of children in Massachusetts a healthy start by providing access to prenatal care,” Secretary Thompson said. “Prenatal care is crucial to the health and well-being of both mother and child. Vital services during pregnancy can be a life-long determinant of health and we should do everything possible to make this care available to everyone.”
“President Bush and I are committed to doing everything we can to encourage states to use all their SCHIP funds to expand health coverage to low-income children and pregnant mothers in their states who otherwise would remain uninsured,” Thompson said.