Gibbons: Mexico May Pay for Health Care of Mexicans in Nevada

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Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons said Monday the Mexican government is interested in paying health care costs of Mexican nationals residing in Nevada.

Mexicans would be eligible for the program regardless of their legal status in the United States and would participate by registering with the Mexican consulate in Las Vegas, Gibbons said during a conference call following a meeting with Mexican Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordoba.

Communities across the United States are weighing the benefits of immigration to the economy and tax rolls against costs to public services like education and health care, as the federal government
moves forward with a crackdown on illegal immigration.

"The cost that is normally borne by taxpayers in Nevada for the health care costs would be shared by the Mexican government for these individuals," he said. "That's a win for Nevada. It's a win for the people who are going without health care because they don't have insurance."

Gibbons said he has asked the Mexican consulate to begin researching the program, which is being tested in New York under the name Windows of Health. He did not know how many people it might benefit or when it might be implemented in Nevada.

Mexico's Health Department confirmed late Monday that it is analyzing the feasibility of covering health care costs for its citizens in Nevada.

Mexico is still struggling to provide health care and health insurance to Mexicans living here. Just over half of Mexico's population lacks coverage under the country's large, traditional, government-run health plans.

Gibbons also met with Mexico's foreign and education secretaries.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)