LB 599 would restore prenatal care to all low-income babies in Nebraska, but opponents of the bill say it would also provide coverage for illegal immigrants.
Speaker Mike Flood of Norfolk, Senator Mike Gloor of Grand Island, Senator Kathy Campbell of Lincoln, Senator Greg Adams of York, and Senator Tom Carlson of Holdrege made stops in Scottsbluff, Kearney, and Grand Island on Friday to talk about why they voted for LB 599.
Speaker Mike Flood says LB 599 isn't an immigration issue, he says it's about unborn Nebraskans, even those whose mother's aren't legal immigrants.
"These children under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution will be citizens of the United States," says Flood. "Taxpayers will pay for their birth, they will pay for any aftercare following that birth."
Senator Mike Gloor, a former CEO of Saint Francis Medical Center says when prenatal care isn't available oftentimes that aftercare actually costs more.
"It's so much cheaper to provide prenatal care as opposed to the expense of care that goes into a child, a baby that's in a room like this," said Gloor standing in a Neonatal Intensive Care Room in Saint Francis.
Health care providers at the Grand Island hospital say that when the state stopped covering prenatal care many pregnant women weren't seen by a doctor until they were giving birth.
"We just take care of women having babies the safest way that we can and if these women are trying to come in and have healthy babies and we let them down we're letting down these children who have no voice," says Registered Nurse Alice Quick. "We're their advocate, we're their voice."
Saint Francis' Director of Maternal Child Services Jan Spale says a lack of prenatal care means physicians may have to treat a high risk pregnancy with little or no information.
"We have seen admissions to our NICU just because some of these women have not had access to prenatal care and it is very expensive," says Spale.
Nurses say clinics like the Good Neighbor Community Health Center in Columbus have been providing some patients without coverage with prenatal care, then working hard to make sure hospitals like Saint Francis get those records when the baby is born.