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Appellate Court Says NJ Has Right to Cut Health Program for Legal Immigrants

Source: AP

Posted on 14 Jul 2011

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An appellate court has decided that New Jersey has the right to cut a program that offered free or low cost health insurance to legal immigrants in the state.

The ruling is considered a victory for Gov. Chris Christie, who is leading efforts in cutting New Jersey's estimated $10.5 billion budget deficit. The decision, announced Tuesday, came as state Senate Democrats failed to muster the three Republican votes needed to override even one of  Gov. Christie's budget vetoes to restore funding for child abuse services, women's health clinics, legal aid and mental health services.

The court ruled that the Legislature did not overstep its authority by allowing the Department of Human Services to end coverage for nearly 12,000 immigrants enrolled in the state's FamilyCare program.

Eligibility rules were changed last year as state officials dealt with a budget shortfall.

Lawyers for Seton Hall University's Center for Social Justice claimed the change was unconstitutional because it singled out a certain group of immigrants.

According to The Record of Bergen County, a Seton Hall official statement at the time of the original suit in September of 2010 stated that "several of the plaintiffs," in the case, "have family histories of heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes and worry that without regular check-ups and preventive care, they will be unable to prevent irreversible damage to their health.”

Associate professor Jenny-Brooke Condon told The Star-Ledger of Newark the case may be appealed to the state Supreme Court.