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Court: State can't cut legal immigrants off from state health insurance just to save money

The Supreme Judicial Court today overturned a law that prohibits certain legal immigrants from obtaining subsidized insurance from the state's Commonwealth Care program.

The court said saving money was the main rationale behind a law passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Patrick limiting the number of immigrants who could sign up for Commonwealth Care - and saving money is not a good enough reason under the state constitution for "invidious discrimination against aliens."

The appropriation arose directly out of an unforeseen revenue shortfall in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The proponents of § 31 (a ) repeatedly invoked fiscal concerns, while failing to articulate any interest whatsoever in national immigration policy.

The state law relied on definitions set by Congress for determining who is eligible for federal benefits, but the court said that legislature and the state Health Insurance Connector could not use those definitions without proving some societal benefit beyond simply cutting costs. To do so otherwise would violate the state constitution:

The discrimination against legal immigrants that its limiting language embodies violates their rights to equal protection under the Massachusetts Constitution.

Last May, the court, in a narrowly decided decision, sent the case back down to a lower court with an admonition to consider issues of discrimination against legal aliens.

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Comments

It would certainly suck to be a US permanent resident, paying local, state and federal taxes just as any citizen, and obliged to meet the state requirement to have health insurance or else face a tax penalty... and then not receive access to a premium program designed to make it feasible for people to avoid the tax penalty, funded by those state taxes you paid. (Will admit to not having read the legal brief carefully, in case I'm wrong on the implication it'd do that.)

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unreal.

So the rest of us taxpayers foot the bill.

This state is insane.

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These aren't illegal aliens but legal immigrants. They pay taxes just like citizens, but can't vote.

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They STILL aren't citizens...

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Hospitals have to cover them one way or another. Insurance where they pay and cover co-pays is cheaper than the state paying outright, is it not?

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They are taxpayers and they still have rights - as the court pointed out. Non-citizen legal aliens aren't slaves.

Here's an interesting task for you: find the appropriate documents and records that verify that your immigrant parents, grandparents, etc. migrated legally.

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"Here's an interesting task for you: find the appropriate documents and records that verify that your immigrant parents, grandparents, etc. migrated legally."

The Native American part of my family tree is missing many parts (roots?). Most of the elders in the family also only remember so far back. This is a tough one to do.

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Why don't you do research your own ancestors? I've done it. It really is quite interesting. You might learn something! (gasp)

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