WA keeps immigrant children in state health plan

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- The Washington state Legislature has approved changes to the state's health care program for poor kids, allowing a raise in premiums for undocumented children to keep them enrolled.

Gov. Chris Gregoire initially proposed cutting the 26,000 illegal immigrant children enrolled in the program. And an earlier Senate plan would have reduced enrollment as well. About 700,000 total children are covered.

Under the proposal approved unanimously in the Senate on Wednesday, families of those children will pay higher monthly premiums to stay in the program.

In dire budget cuts, children's health advocates were pleased with the results. Children's Alliance deputy director Jon Gould says that this way all children, no matter their legal status, will have access to health care.

Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens says that by maintaining the program the state protects the "most vulnerable."