Massachusetts’ state-subsidized health coverage system is the envy of many, but legal resident immigrants aren’t feeling the love.
Last year, the state decided to cut costs by kicking 26,000 immigrants out of the health coverage system; it then restored some partial coverage, with significantly higher out-of-pocket expenses and provider restrictions than non-immigrant residents received. Now, immigrants are suing the Connector Authority, which oversees the distribution of health coverage, for violating their right to equal protection under the MA and U.S. constitutions.
Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, says of state legislators decision to strip immigrants of health coverage, “These people are their neighbors, they pay taxes, they are part of the fabric. But they are being separated because of their immigration status.’’ Plaintiffs in the suit include a 45-year-old architect from the Philippines who cannot find a specialist to treat her breast cancer on the deeply restricted coverage immigrants now have to put up with.
Lawmakers have a habit of seeing immigrants as populations whose benefits can be dispensed with in times of economic crunch, despite the fact that they are legal residents and contributing to the economy, keeping that downturn from being even worse. It will be interesting to see the wider ramifications if the courts agree that this kind of discriminatory policy and segregation of one population violates constitutional principles of equal protection under the law.
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