Mass Flip-Flop

Gov. Deval Patrick is playing peek-a-boo with immigrants in the Bay State.

You know the game.

“Where’s health insurance?”

“Where’s health insurance?”

“Boo! There it is.”

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.

Only a politician could make cutting benefits sound like he is doing you a favor.

It is important to note these are LEGAL immigrants. Foreign nationals here on certain types of visa’s are required to have proof of health insurance. Why are the citizens of Massachusetts paying taxes to cover immigrants health insurance?

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.

They don’t qualify for Medicaid? Wanna bet?

I am sure Georgia is not alone in covering immigrants, legal or otherwise, who don’t have health insurance but have babies in our hospitals and Medicaid picks up the tab.

I see Ca-lee-forn-ya is on the list of those providing health coverage for immigrants. Are they still handing out IOU’s and Arnie bucks to pay their bills?

Because of its three-year-old law requiring universal health coverage, Massachusetts has the country’s lowest percentage of uninsured residents: 2.6 percent, compared with a national average of 15 percent.

That’s nice, but . . .

All of the affected immigrants will be covered under the new plan by Dec. 1, Mr. Patrick said; in the meantime they will have to rely on hospitals that provide free emergency care to the poor.

Seems like a step back to me.

Isn’t Gov. Patrick the same one who wants to change the law, the one imposed when Republican Gov. Romney was in office, to allow him to appoint an interim U.S. Senator to replace Sen. Kennedy?

“Massachusetts needs two voices in the United States Senate at any time but particularly now with the gravity of the issues,” Patrick said.

Republicans charge that the Democrats are trying to make a political power play. In 2004, the Democratically controlled Legislature took the power to fill a vacant Senate away from then-governor Mitt Romney, because lawmakers did not want him to have the chance, in the event Senator John F. Kerry won the presidency, to fill his seat with a Republican.

So it is OK to take the power of appointment away from a Republican governor and then restore the law under a Democratic governor . . . but only if it serves to benefit you.

And let’s not overlook the fact that MA can’t fund the cost of their white elephant health care plan so they want the rest of the U.S. taxpayers to help them pay for it.

Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said she was worried about immigrants’ having to find new primary care doctors at a time when the state is suffering from a shortage of such providers. She also said that the new coverage would in some cases require a much higher co-payment — $50 instead of between $1 and $3 — for non-generic prescription drugs, and that enrollment would be capped at the 31,000 current enrollees.

$1 copay’s for brand name drugs.

And they don’t have a clue why the plan is running out of money.

What are they smoking in Massachusetts?

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