Court Oks NJ Medicaid denial for legal immigrants

    New Jersey’s top court says the state may legally deny Medicaid benefits to adult non-citizens who are in the United States legally but have been here less than five years.

    The state Supreme Court in a split decision released Monday affirmed a lower court ruling allowing the denial. The justices did not issue a new opinion in the case.

    Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and Justice Barry Albin both voted to reverse the decision.

    The state started allowing non-residents into its Medicaid program in 2005, reasoning that offering the coverage would result in lower emergency hospital charity care bills.

    Amid a budget crisis in 2010, the state changed its policy again, denying the coverage.

    The lower court found that was permissible under a 1996 federal law.

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