Wednesday, April 04, 2007
I'm tired of seeing my government shrug their shoulders and say there is nothing they can do. DAMMIT there sure is and you better all start doing your DAMN JOBS or we are going to put a new government in.
Residents angry over free prenatal care
Some Montgomery County taxpayers are challenging a county program that provides prenatal services to uninsured illegal immigrants.
Until late last week, the county's Web site said its prenatal services program, funded this year with a $192,000 state grant, was available to Montgomery County pregnant women who had been “rejected by medical assistance because of undocumented residency status.”
The county changed that statement to say the program is available to low-income pregnant residents who are “rejected by medical assistance,” after residents complained at Thursday's commissioners meeting that it looked as if the county was reaching out to illegal immigrants and forgetting about U.S. citizens.
The program provides prenatal lab tests, pharmacy services, and assistance with nutrition issues and smoking cessation to help reduce infant mortality and preventable diseases.
“You're making it more comfortable for [illegal immigrants],” Ruth Miller, of East Norriton, said during the meeting. “You're shirking your duties by doing this. How many American citizens will be turned away for lack of funding because [illegal aliens] are getting [health care]?”
County spokesman John Corcoran said illegal immigrants won't be turned away, but comments by Miller and two other women at last week's meeting triggered the change in the Web site.
“We looked into it and it was a mistake,” Corcoran said of the Web wording. “So it was clarified to just say it was for anyone rejected by medical assistance, because that's who it's for.”
Program funding comes through the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Maternal and Child Health grant.
Human services director Joe Roynan said many Mexican nationals take advantage of the program. It was unclear Monday afternoon exactly how many undocumented mothers have used the services.
“It's a worthy program,” Roynan said. “Once born, that child is a resident.”
Miller objected, saying: “Before he is born, his mother is an illegal immigrant and should be deported.”
Services are available at: Family OB/GYN Center of Montgomery at 15 W. Wood St. in Norristown, (610) 270-2488; and Mercy Suburban OB/GYN Center at 2701 DeKalb Street in Norristown, (610) 278-2171.Melissa Busch can be reached at 215-957-8168 or mbusch@phillyBurbs.com.
This is the article in The Times Herald
"Deportation is not in our domain," county human services Director Joseph Roynan said. "Our domain is the care of infants, to make as sure as possible that they are not born with birth defects or other disabilities regardless of the status of the infant's mother."
"Before that child is born, the mother is here illegally and should be deported," maintained East Norriton resident Ruth Miller, claiming that the county was facilitating illegal immigration by offering the prenatal program.
Once the child is born, that child is a U.S. citizen and is entitled to numerous benefits including health care, commissioners Chairman Thomas J. Ellis responded.
It makes better financial sense to make sure the child is born healthy rather than to have to spend more money to address a child's health problems resulting from a lack of care during a mother's pregnancy, Ellis explained.
The issue was raised at last week's meeting of the county commissioners, who signed off on a $192,000 state PSP grant. Half of the money will be used to pay the Montgomery Hospital OB/GYN Clinic for PSP services it provides and the other half will be used for similar services provided by the Mercy-Suburban OB/GYN Clinic.
The state grant funds provide clinics with an $800 subsidy for each participant, covering the cost of doctor visits, tests, vitamins and delivery.
The PSP program, which began operating in the county in 2001, provides free prenatal care for women who are uninsurable and living in the Norristown and Abington areas.
The largest number of women in the program are uninsured because of their undocumented status, with the PSP program primarily targeting Hispanic women in the Norristown area and Asian women in the Abington area.
Miller contended that pregnant women who are U.S. citizens are unable to receive help from this program that favors illegal aliens.
That is not accurate, according to Roynan.
If a pregnant U.S. citizen is not eligible for health insurance elsewhere, she will be accepted into the program. However, pregnant women who are citizens of the United States normally can obtain medical assistance and/or qualify for other prenatal programs offered by the county's health department, he said.
Ellis said the state grant funds are specifically earmarked for uninsurable pregnant women.
These funds are not put into other programs if the county does not use them, he added.
There has been an increasing number of births by Hispanic women in the Norristown area.
Of the 509 births in the Norristown area in 2000, 413 were by non-Hispanic women and 95 were by Hispanic women. By 2004, Hispanic women had given birth to 267 of the 726 infants born in the Norristown area.
Margaret Gibbons can be reached at email@example.com or 610-272-2501, ext. 216.