Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Heal you, heal me, don't heal that fellow behind the tree 

New advances in health care policy:
State-subsidized health insurance for 31,000 legal immigrants here will no longer cover dental, hospice or skilled-nursing care under a scaled-back plan that Gov. Deval Patrick announced Monday.

Mr. Patrick said his administration had struggled to find a solution �that preserves the promise of health care reform� after the state legislature cut most of the $130 million it had previously allotted immigrants, to help close a budget deficit. Although their health benefits will be sharply curtailed in some cases, Mr. Patrick portrayed the new program as a victory, saying the services that the affected group tends to use the most will still be covered.

�It�s an extraordinary accomplishment,� he said in a conference call with reporters, �to offer virtually full coverage for the entire population that�s been impacted in the face of really extraordinary budget constraints.�

The new plan, which will cover permanent residents who have had green cards for less than five years, will cost the state $40 million a year. Some of the affected immigrants will be charged higher co-payments and will have to find new doctors, said Leslie A. Kirwan, Mr. Patrick�s finance director.

Still, Mr. Patrick described the new coverage as comprehensive and said it could be a model for less expensive state-subsidized benefits as health care costs continue to rise. Under the 1996 federal law that overhauled the nation�s welfare system, the 31,000 affected immigrants do not qualify for Medicaid or other federal aid. Massachusetts is one of the few states � others are California, New York and Pennsylvania � that provide at least some health coverage for such immigrants.
Emphasis added. h/t: Tyler Cowen. Interesting spin in this story, making a reduction of coverage to legal immigrants "an extraordinary accomplishment." If a private plan did this...

Over/under for time until pictures of dying immigrants not able to get hospice appear in the Boston Globe: three weeks.