Saturday, March 8, 2014
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Even before he was elected in 2010, Gov. Paul LePage said he wanted to restrict benefits to noncitizens because the state cannot afford to pay for people who move to Maine to get help. Shortly after taking office in January 2011, he signed an executive order to allow DHHS officials to inquire about immigration status when deciding who qualifies for benefits.
In his budget speech that year, he said Maine is "one of the few places in the country that offers welfare on day one for legal noncitizens."
Statistics provided by the administration show that 21 states provide some level of coverage to legal noncitizens and, of those, 15 offer state-funded services.
Advocates say the new restrictions violate equal protection guarantees in the U.S. Constitution that prohibit the state from "discriminating in the distribution of benefits or services" because of alien or immigration status.
"Without proper treatment, Hans faces a terrifying and painful fight for his life with a very poor prognosis for survival," Merrill said. "We are asking the court to restore Hans' health insurance coverage so he can get the full range of treatment that could result in better health outcomes and ease his suffering."
State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: