Late this morning, Governor Patrick announced a plan to use the $40 million allocated by the Legislature to cover the 31,000 legal, taxpaying immigrants in Massachusetts (called “aliens with special status,” or AWSS, by the MassHealth system) who will be losing their Commonwealth Care after today. After receiving proposals from CommCare managed care providers, CeltiCare was chosen to provide coverage for this population in FY10. (Globe story here; Governor’s press release here)
According to the Administration, CeltiCare will provide comprehensive coverage to all 31,000 legal immigrants. Benefits will be similar to those in current CommCare plans; however, dental, vision, hospice, and skill nursing services will not be covered. CeltiCare still needs time to develop its provider network statewide, and therefore, coverage will phase in for AWSS in the Boston area by October 1st and statewide by December 1st. Health Care For All and ACT!! will monitor the progress of the provider network
Until the new plan is established, legal immigrants in the AWSS population will be eligible for the Health Safety Net; some will also be eligible for MassHealth Limited, which covers emergency care. Folks should contact their provider(s) and find out if they accept HSN; if not, they should contact their local community health center to ensure they continue to get the care they need.
We still have lots of questions. More details will be posted here as we learn them. We expect the administration to issue an information sheet soon, which we will link to or post.
UPDATE – Some more details from the administration (see these FAQs):
- the program will be phased in with Greater Boston people enrolled on October 1; northern and southern parts of the state on November 1, and the central and western areas on December 1.
- the plan will automatically cover all of the 31,000 legal immigrants who will be lose their Commonwealth Care coverage on Sept. 1, but new enrollees who qualify as AWSS will not be able to join the plan. They will be eligible for the Health Safety Net.
- people enrolled will face higher copayments for some services. Primary care office visits and generic drugs will be free. But a 30-day supply of a non-generic drug will be $50, with no cap on pharmacy out-of-pocket costs. We think this is unaffordable for this group, most of which are below the poverty level. A HIV-infected person needs multiple brand-name drugs to live and someone with a low income has no way of coming up with $50 a month for each prescription.