Oct 30, 2006
The Maryland state government’s plan to direct more of the budget to the wealthy by taking benefits from the poor was just dealt a temporary setback.
In 2005, Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich cut seven million dollars from a Medicaid program providing health care for 4000 low-income pregnant women and their children. A recent court decision reversed the decision.
In order to cut off some of these families from the program, the state government used various excuses. One attack was against immigrant families with legal status who had not yet been here for five years. It’s outrageous that any child is denied needed medical care because of “legal” status. As they smile and pose for photo opportunities, state officials taking away Medicaid benefits are willing to condemn children to death if their families cannot afford health coverage.
But the Republican governor of Maryland was hardly alone in cutting the budget at the expense of the poor. In fact, Ehrlich was in line with a majority of governors, Democrats and Republicans, who took their cue from Democrat Bill Clinton. In the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, there was a provision preventing Medicaid funds from covering health care for legal immigrants who had lived in the U.S. for less than five years. The bill was full of dirty tricks, singling out the most vulnerable people – poor women and children. Immigrants were only one of a multitude of categories cut off – leading the way to wider attacks on all the unemployed poor and working mothers thrown off welfare benefits.
In Maryland, there are currently 788,000 people – one of every seven in one of the wealthiest states in the country – with no health insurance.
It makes no difference who these people are, of whatever age, sex, race or place of birth. Every single person needs health care as a right – not only when they can afford to pay for it.
Some immigrant rights groups went to court against this blatant attack and have apparently gotten this law thrown out. More people need to fight back and not just in the courts. What the courts decide can be undecided if there aren’t people making their anger felt.