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Washington state sues over Medicaid access for immigrant children

[JURIST] The US state of Washington [JURIST news archive] has filed a claim against the federal Department of Health and Human Services [official website] challenging a regulation [PDF text] that restricts access to Medicaid benefits for infants born to immigrants in the United States. The regulation extends the provisions of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 [PDF text; Families USA backgrounder], which requires states to withhold Medicaid coverage from immigrant adults and children until their citizenship can be proven. Washington Governor Chris Gregoire [official website] has denounced the regulation [press release] as a violation of the constitutional rights of the infants, who are US citizens by virtue of their birth on US soil. Although the infants' parents can prove that their children are citizens, the lengthy application process will discourage immigrants from seeking Medicaid approval, according to Gregoire's office. Instead, they will rely on emergency room services, ultimately costing the state more.

Gregoire's claim for injunctive relief was filed on Monday with the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website]. Washington has refused to apply the regulation, which would affect 8,000 infants, until the judiciary resolves the issue. AP has more.

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