Thousands of legal immigrants may have to wait weeks longer to find out whether the state's highest court will order Massachusetts to restore their full health insurance benefits.
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Robert J. Cordy today ordered lawyers for the state to file their motions by June 23.
But Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Grace Miller said in court today that the state intends to file a motion to have the issue heard before the full court, which is likely to push things back until the fall.
Advocates last month asked Cordy to declare the state's exclusion of the immigrants from subsidized health coverage unconstitutional.
The full court ruled in early May that the exclusion likely violates the state's constitution, and sent the case back to Cordy for a final decision.
"It looks like the (state) may try to elongate the process and we think thatís unfortunate and unnecessary because we are hoping the case can be resolved quickly," said Matt Selig, executive director of Health Law Advocates, a Boston public interest firm that filed the suit on behalf of the immigrants.
The state Senate released its proposed budget last month for the upcoming fiscal year without including money for expanding services to the immigrants.
Senator Stephen M. Brewer, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said in an interview with the Globe at that time that the Senate would reinstate legal immigrants to the full state-subsidized health plan when a court tells lawmakers they have to.
The SJC ruling last month said that Massachusetts likely erred in 2009 when it cut health coverage for about 26,000 immigrants after state lawmakers eliminated $130 million in funding for the program to help balance the budget. The ruling did not order the state to reinstate full coverage for legal immigrants, but it paved the way for the motion by immigrant advocates that could lead to such a mandate.
Advocates have said an estimated 20,000 additional immigrants who have tried to enroll since 2009 have been locked out, because the Legislature capped enrollment.
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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