Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Thank you, Governor Patrick

Governor Patrick and his folks deserve lots of credit for figuring out how to preserve health care benefits for legal immigrants in Massachusetts, as documented in today's Boston Globe story by Stephen Smith. See here for an earlier request to help out on this front.

The solution is not perfect, but it is a practical and thoughtful response to the matter.

It is a sad state of affairs that this issue arose at all. This is about legal immigrants, people who work hard, pay taxes and otherwise are like everybody else in the state. The only difference between them and "us" is that they don't yet have the right to vote. As such, they were all too easy for the body politic to ignore.

As we consider appropriate tributes to our late Senator Kennedy, omission of insurance for this group is the kind of thing he would have found anathema. Bravo to Governor Patrick for recognizing the Commonwealth's obligation to them as part of the health plan that is being viewed as a model while the country considers its own national plan.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Paul for bringing attention to the Immigrant issue. One concern of Celticare being the insurer for this population is its limited network. Is your hospital a member of the Celticare Network?

Anonymous said...

Paul - If these immigrants are working hard why don't they have health insurance through their employers? What percent actually have jobs and are not living off of state/federal aid and free health insurance? I just don't understand why immigrants (legal or illegal) should have access to free healthcare while our own citizens struggle to pay for their healthcare costs.

Paul Levy said...

We are willing to participate, and have contacted the Celticare leadership to ask about our ability to participate. My understanding of the original intent of the Celticare network was to include only Caritas hospitals, MGH, and BWH, and any hospital they needed for geographic coverage. We have expressed our interest in participating, and will continue to do so.

Paul Levy said...

Anon 12:10,

There are citizens working in companies all across the state who rely on the state's subsidized insurance plans to get the coverage they need and can afford. That was part of the design of the MA law.

The question here is why legal immigrants should be treated any differently from citizens. Next, will you exclude their children from attending public schools? Will you say they should not be eligible to ride mass transit, which is subsidized by the state. What's the logic for excluding bona fide residents of the state from programs like this? I don't see any.

Anonymous said...

In the real world things have to be paid for. We already face something like a 55% tax burden here in Massachusetts when you consider all the federal, state and local taxes. Enough is enough. Where does it all end? You may want to pay more for these immigrants to have free health insurance so check off the box on your tax returns to voluntarily pay the higher state income tax rate. We pay enough already and shouldn't be asked to pay more and more to please the left wing idealists. You say they are hard working but I would bet the VAST majority are unemployed and receiving state/federal money, free housing and free healthcare. These are tough times and I am sorry that tough decisions like this will have to be made.

Paul Levy said...

A follow-up: We have been informed that Celticare is not willing to add BIDMC to their network. We were told that they have excess hospital capacity in the Boston market and are not looking to add hospital providers in Boston. They are focused on adding health centers in the Boston area and hospitals in other parts of the state.

It is odd to me that an insurer would choose to limit a network in this manner, especially when service could be delivered at a lower cost to patients, but that is their call.