June 29, 2009
To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives:
Pursuant to Article LVI, as amended by Article XC, Section 3 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I am returning to you for amendment Section 121 of House Bill No. 4129, "An Act Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2010 for the Maintenance of the Departments, Boards, Commissions, Institutions and Certain Activities of the Commonwealth, for Interest, Sinking Fund and Serial Bond Requirements and for Certain Permanent Improvements."
Section 121 eliminates Commonwealth Care health insurance coverage for approximately 30,000 legal immigrants (known as "Aliens with Special Status") who do not currently qualify for federal reimbursement. I am instead proposing to invest $70 million to continue state-subsidized health insurance for these individuals.
For these reasons, I recommend that Section 121 be amended by striking out the text and inserting in place thereof the following text:-
SECTION 121. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, an eligible individual pursuant to section 3 of chapter 118H of the General Laws shall not include persons who cannot receive federally-funded benefits under sections 401, 402 and 403 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-193, as amended, for fiscal year 2010. The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority shall provide notice at least 30 days prior to termination of benefits for any member pursuant to this section.
(b) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the secretary of administration and finance, the secretary of health and human services and the executive director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, in their full discretion and subject only to the terms and conditions in this subsection, may establish or designate a health insurance plan in which a person who cannot receive federally-funded benefits as of July 1, 2009 under sections 401, 402 and 403 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-193, as amended, and who is also an eligible individual pursuant to section 3 of chapter 118H of the General Laws, may enroll effective September 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010. This plan may be contracted for selectively from the health plans that are contracting in fiscal year 2010 to provide insurance coverage to Commonwealth Care or MassHealth enrollees. Total state costs of providing coverage to all such persons, net of enrollee contributions and any federal financial participation, shall not exceed $70 million for fiscal year 2010. To the extent additional federal financial participation becomes available for paying the costs of such coverage, the secretary of administration and finance may direct the comptroller to make such amounts available from the General Fund for the purpose of paying the costs of such coverage. If the secretary of administration and finance, the secretary of health and human services and the executive director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority determine that the projected costs of enrolling eligible individuals in such coverage in fiscal year 2010 will exceed net state costs of $70 million, they shall limit enrollment in such coverage.