Mass. Scrambles to Fund Health Coverage for Legal Immigrants After Ruling
The Bay State's highest court ruled that all eligible legal immigrants must get the option of low-cost subsidized health insurance.
It’s illegal to deny state-sponsored health insurance to legal immigrants, the highest Massachusetts court ruled, and now lawmakers must find the funds to provide it for up to 37,400 people, reports the Boston Globe.
Yesterday, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court sided with a lower court ruling that the state violated legal immigrants' equal protection rights when it created a separate, scaled-back health-care plan for current legal immigrants living in the country for less than five years and denied any state health coverage for new legal immigrants in 2009. The plan, called the Commonwealth Care Bridge Program, had higher premiums, covered less services, and restricted users’ doctor and hospital choices, according to the Globe.
It’s not yet known how the state will pay for the increased health coverage, which state leaders say will cost an extra $150 million a year, but officials have reportedly promised to act quickly, according to the Boston Herald.
“This decision has significant fiscal impacts for the commonwealth,” state administration and finance secretary Jay Gonzalez told the Herald. “However, we respect the court’s decision, and we will work expeditiously to identify the resources required.”
Massachusetts initially offered this health insurance option to all legal immigrants, but stopped in 2009 to cut spending.