Resolution Appears Near On Immigrant Health Care Funding

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Lawmakers may reach a resolution Wednesday on the funding of health care for some 30,000 legal immigrants.

Beacon Hill reportedly reached a tentative deal to spend $40 million to cover legal immigrants enrolled in Commonwealth Care, the state's health care plan. That is about a third of what Massachusetts spent last year on the same group.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley recently made a call on his blog for restoring coverage for immigrants. He is happy about the apparent new deal, said Father Bryan Hehir, secretary for Health and Social Services for the Boston Archdiocese.

"I'm sure the cardinal would like total coverage," Hehir said. "He's concerned about the wider population and the needs they have."

The governor's office, however, said this level of funding "is not sufficient to maintain meaningful coverage or to develop a scaled back program."

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said lawmakers are limited on what they can do because tax revenue is still coming in short of expectations. "If we're immediately out of balance than, the next day or two, the governor can just start to 9C that," DeLeo said. "I don't think that's responsible, period," he added.

9C is the rule that lets the governor make budget cuts without consulting the legislature.

Lawmakers are also considering whether to restore half of the funding cuts for Zoo New England. Zoo officials had said they would be forced to close the Franklin Park and Stone zoos without the full $4 million. They had said some animals would be euthanized, but later retracted that statement.

No word on whether the additional $2 million will be enough.

WBUR's Martha Bebinger contributed to this report.

This program aired on July 29, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.