legal immigrants

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Breaking: Mass. Supreme Court Backs Health Coverage For Legal Immigrants

WBUR’s Martha Bebinger reports:

The state must restore full health insurance benefits for about 40,000 legal immigrants who were given slimmed-down coverage three years ago to save money.

The state’s highest court said today that the cheaper insurance that the legislature created for legal immigrants in 2009 “violates their rights to equal protection.” Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, the director at Health Care for All, is celebrating the decision. She said:

“We know that this is absolutely the right thing and it’s an affirmation of what this state has done consistently on behalf of the people in Massachusetts and on behalf of the health reform law that we stand so firmly behind.”

Restoring full health coverage through the state’s Commonwealth Care program could cost in the range of $150 million. There’s no word yet from the Patrick administration about how they will absorb this additional cost.

And here’s the report on today’s decision on Health Care for All’s blog:

The SJC just issued their opinion in Finch v. Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, the case brought by Health Law Advocates contesting the denial of full Commonwealth Care benefits to legal immigrants who did not qualify for federal Medicaid reimbursement. The unanimous decision requires the state to reinstate full coverage for all legal immigrants. Continue reading

Connector Says Health Cuts For Immigrants Reflect National Policy

The Connector makes the legal case for cutting health benefits for legal immigrants

Lawyers for the state’s Health Insurance Connector Authority are arguing in legal motions that cutting thousands of legal immigrants off of certain subsidized health plans is in alignment with federal immigration policy, The Boston Globe reports.

Cutting health care to thousands of legal immigrants in Massachusetts serves a compelling government interest and furthers national immigration policy, according to court motions filed today by lawyers representing the state’s Connector Authority, which oversees the state’s landmark health insurance law.

In the motion, the agency asked that the full Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court consider the challenge by legal immigrants to a 2009 state law that excluded them from receiving full benefits through the state’s subsidized health insurance program and barred many others from receiving any coverage.

The full court ruled in early May that the exclusions likely violate the state’s constitution, and sent the case back to Associate Justice Robert J. Cordy for a final decision.

The Connector argues that “adopting the federal policy would better align Massachusetts’ subsidized health insurance program with national policy,” The Globe reports.

But Matt Selig, executive director of Health Law Advocates, the Boston public interest firm that filed the suit on behalf of the immigrants, told the Globe that there was no evidence that lawmakers were interested in federal immigration law when they cut benefits in 2009 during budget negotiations.

We think because of the harm caused to our clients, the harm to their health and their constitutional rights, we think this case should be resolved as quickly as possible,” Selig said.

Read the documents here and here.