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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Senate Approves Plan To Pay Medical Costs For Unauthorized Immigrant Children

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network

The Oregon Senate voted Monday to extend health insurance coverage to children who are in the country illegally. The $36 million plan would enroll those children in the state's Medicaid program.

Supporters said paying for routine medical care would be cheaper in the long run than forcing those children to seek medical care at emergency rooms. Opponents said the proposal rewards parents who bring their children to the U.S. without authorization.

Senate Republican leader Ted Ferrioli supports the measure—but suspects constituents in his eastern Oregon district won’t.

"And I will look at folks with anger in their eyes, and they will not listen to the answer: That's it's less expensive and perhaps a better part of the conservative equation to do that which is right cheaper, than to essentially do that which is wrong, which is a lot more expensive,” Ferrioli said.

The measure passed the Senate 21 to 8 and now heads to the Oregon House.