Advocates Clarify Issue of Health Coverage Enrollment for Immigrants

dsc_0582Health Care for All and MIRA urge 37,400 documented immigrants who now qualify for Commonwealth Care to enroll or seek guidance

4/3/12 BOSTON - Today, representatives of Health Care For All (HCFA) and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) gathered to highlight the eligibility and enrollment process for the estimated 37,400 documented immigrants who now qualify for CommonwealthCare.

“We are really excited that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed our vision of health care as a right for all residents and we are committed to enrolling every single eligible individual into CommonwealthCare,” said Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive Director of Health Care For All. “Some of our HelpLine callers are confused about the enrollment process.  We are here today to make sure people understand what they are eligible for and how they can start getting their health benefits.”

Health Law Advocates won this landmark legal victory on behalf of the class that sued the Commonwealth when state budget cuts included removing special status immigrants from the Commonwealth Care program and created a limited health plan known as the Bridge program.

“After a long struggle, we were profoundly pleased in January when The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court restored the rights of documented immigrants to receive the same access to health care coverage as native-born state residents,” said Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. “We are now eager to make sure these thousands of hard-working, tax-paying residents sign up for this coverage and not lose out on this just and sensible decision.”

Re-enrollment in the Commonwealth Care program will be accomplished in three waves.  On March 1st, approximately12,400 residents whowere Bridge members were automatically enrolled in the Commonwealth Care program where they will receive full health coverage benefits.

Another 24,000 residents have started receiving two letters – one from MassHealth and a second with a multi-lingual message from the Health Connector – highlighting their new eligibility for Commonwealth Care. This group of individuals must take steps to enroll in the state-subsidized plans and Health Care For All is available to help anyone navigate the steps necessary to access their health benefits.  The window of opportunity is only 90 days long, and without taking action consumers could lose access to coverage and become uninsured.

We urge the newly eligible immigrants to reach out and ask questions, go on line or give Health Care For All a call to see whether they qualify for subsidized health care coverage.  The Supreme Court’s ruling and the hard work and concerted efforts by the Health Connector staff is all geared to providing health care coverage to everyone in Massachusetts who qualifies for Commonwealth Care or MassHealth.

If you have questions about your eligibility or the enrollment process, please call theHealth Care For All HelpLine at 1-800-272-4232 (available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian).