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January 1, 2011 Updates

1. Bridge funded through June 2011.
The Bridge program for legal immigrants who are "aliens with special status" terminated from regular Commonwealth Care in August 2009 received a much needed infusion of funds as part of a supplemental budget that passed the legislature on Dec. 30, 2010 & was signed today Jan. 4. Administration officials estimate the added funds will enable the program to continue coverage for the 23,000 adults currently enrolled in Bridge throughout the current fiscal year. Bridge coverage is through CeltiCare. Without the added funds the program was a risk of closing at the end of January.

"Aliens with special status" applying for benefits after Aug 2009 remain ineligible for either Commonwealth Care or Bridge --an estimated 14,000 legal immigrants remain in this situation.

Meanwhile the legal challenge to the exclusion of legal immigrants from Commonwealth Care is still pending in state court. The next step in the lawsuit will be a decision by the SJC answering key questions about what legal standards apply to the case; the court heard oral argument on Nov. 1, 2010.

2. Summary of Jan. 1, 2011 Medicare changes.
The Medicare Advocacy Center reports on Medicare changes taking effect on Jan. 1, 2011 here:

3. Mandatory coverage for autism in private insurance plans.
Effective for insurance plans issued or renewed after Jan. 1, 2011, a new state law requires coverage for treatment of autism spectrum disorders. The Dept. of Insurance flyer on the provisions of the new law is posted on its website at

4. Photo ID for certain prescriptions.
Also taking effect Jan. 1 is a DPH regulation expanding the types of drugs for which a photo ID is required. A Boston Globe article about these new requirements is here:
The amended regulations implementing the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program are at 105 CMR 700 and 701. The photo ID requirement --including an exception for certain hardhship situations --is at 701.004