Healthcare For Immigrants Discussed In Longview

Each local community in Texas has a decision to make. Does it want to cover illegal immigrants' non-emergency health care? Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott put it in the local communities' hands last week, saying undocumented aliens are eligible to receive public health benefits, but are not entitled to state funds.

It'll be the topic of discussion between Gregg County Health Officials and commissioners next month. Many feel using tax dollars to provide aliens health care is a way to help those who have no options. Health care proponents say it makes more sense to spend $250 a year in preventive medicine than to spend thousands in emergency room visits. Longview residents have mixed reactions.

"Its ridiculous, its hard enough now to provide medical care health care for your own family, for the county to provide funds for illegal immigrants, I think its ludicrous," says Longview resident Tony Means.

"We're going to pay for it regardless, the thought is do we want to pay for it in the beginning and spend a lot less money, or pay for it in the end," says Michelle Trish of the Longview Wellness Center.

$500,000 has already been budgeted in Gregg County, if it decides to cover non-emergency health care. Smith County has been using local funds to pay for immigrant health care for the last year.

Bob Hallmark, reporting.