MaineCare Cuts Inspires Federal Lawsuit

MaineCare, Maine’s version of Medicaid, cut benefits for hundreds of legal immigrants.  This measure was supported by Governor Paul LePage.  The lawsuit is now being brought forth by Maine Equal Justice Partners and the ACLU of Maine Foundation in behalf of Hans Bruns, a man who lost his benefits while battling cancer, along with 500 others.  The advocacy groups argue that MaineCare is putting people in jeopardy of dying from treatable illnesses.

Last summer, state lawmakers imposed a five-year waiting period for legal immigrants to qualify for MaineCare.  This affected the 500 people and individual mentioned above.  Bruns has been a legal permanent resident since late 2007 and began receiving MaineCare benefits in December 2010 after he became disabled.  These benefits were then eliminated in October 2011, and several months later he was diagnosed with a rare cancer.  Now, it looks as though he will die before he reaches the five-year mark allowing him to receive MaineCare benefits.

The lawsuit claims that the change in eligibility violates the US Constitution because it treats legal noncitizen residents differently from US citizens.  They reference the Equal Protection Clause which applies to every person, regardless of citizenship.