Monday, January 16, 2012
SJC: health care law discriminated against immigrants
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled that the state violated the constitutional rights of legal immigrants by denying them access to a state-subsidized health care program. The health care program, Commonwealth Care, was created in 2006 by former governor Mitt Romney as part of his health care reform law. In 2009, the state legislature voted to block immigrants from the program to decrease costs. Governor Patrick responded to the cut by creating the Commonwealth Care Bridge for 20,000 of the immigrants excluded from the previous program. However, this substitute program drastically scaled down the benefits available to participants and increased costs. Health Law Advocates sued on behalf of the immigrants and praised the ruling. Justice Robert Cordy wrote for the court and stated, “The discrimination against legal immigrants ... violates their rights to equal protection under the Massachusetts Constitution" and that “fiscal considerations alone cannot justify a State’s invidious discrimination against aliens."