Massachusetts to cut coverage for legal immigrants

The New York Times reports that Massachusetts will be cutting care for over 30,000 legal immigrants in the state. Although they hold green cards, they’ve done so for less than five years and as such, these taxpayers will no longer qualify for the benefits afforded to the rest of the state — though they’ll continue to pay for them.

Critics of the cut, which would save an estimated $130 million, say it unfairly targets taxpaying residents and threatens the state’s health care experiment at a critical time.

“It either sends the message that health care reform cannot be done, period,” said Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, “or it opens the door to doing it halfway and excluding immigrants from the process.”

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It’s likely that the government of Massachusetts could afford to help the most needy, but it’s obvious that it can’t afford to continue paying for everyone, or expand the number it covers. Unfortunately, rather than reversing some of the reforms that pushed up health care premiums or restricting the subsidies to those below the poverty line (currently, Massachusetts will subsidize care for those earning up to 300 percent of the poverty line), some in Massachusetts are calling for a guaranteed revenue stream, funded by new taxes, to maintain the health system.

Michigan legislators, whose proposed health policy reforms mirror those of Massachusetts in many ways, ought to take notice of the New England state’s growing problems.