Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 39–52

The Communicable Disease Impact of Eliminating Publicly Funded Prenatal Care for Undocumented Immigrants


  • Heather Kuiper
    • Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Sexually Transmitted Disease Program
    • Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Sexually Transmitted Disease Program
    • Institute for Healthcare Advancement
  • Harlan Rotblatt
    • Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Sexually Transmitted Disease Program
  • Steven Asch
    • West Los Angeles Veteran's Administration Medical Center
    • Department of MedicineUniversity of California at Los Angeles

DOI: 10.1023/A:1021862113241

Cite this article as:
Kuiper, H., Richwald, G.A., Rotblatt, H. et al. Matern Child Health J (1999) 3: 39. doi:10.1023/A:1021862113241


Objectives: In 1996, California proposed regulations to eliminate publicly funded prenatal care for undocumented immigrants. Prenatal treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can prevent STI-related adverse outcomes of pregnancy (AOP). The study assessed the STI-related health and economic impact of the proposed regulations in Los Angeles County (LAC). Methods: We modeled excess STI-related AOPs and associated costs that would occur in LAC as if the regulations were implemented in 1995. Using attributable fractions in the exposed for five STIs and their associated AOPs, we calculated excess STI-related AOPs and their costs that would result from the regulations and the degree to which excess morbidity would offset gross savings. Results: The model indicates that, depending on regulatory level, 74, 110, or 132 excess AOPs would occur subsequent to the regulations, representing lost prevented morbidity. These excess AOPs would cost $5.1, $7.6, or $9.2 million dollars in direct medical expenses, offsetting anticipated savings by 19.2%, 29.0%, or 34.9%. This analysis does not include other costs of these STIs or costs associated with non-STI-related sequelae of diminished prenatal care, all of which could further offset anticipated savings. Conclusions: The proposed regulations would likely lead to increased STI-related morbidity and costs, thereby offsetting anticipated savings. Health departments are in a special position to promptly respond to policy issues affecting vulnerable populations. The development of a practical and rational framework for local-level policy assessment can be important for encouraging good scientific approaches that respond to calls for reductions in basic preventive health services.

Prenatal caresexually transmitted diseaseimmigrantscommunicable disease controlwelfare reform

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999