HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) _ Connecticut’s highest court has overturned a lower court ruling that found a state law violated the rights of legal immigrants by taking away taxpayer-funded medical benefits.

Friday’s decision is another setback for 4,800 immigrants who argued it was unconstitutional to deny them the same coverage provided to citizens with similar health and economic problems.

The case stems from Congress’ 1996 welfare overhaul, which barred legal immigrants from receiving nonemergency state health care until they had lived in the country for five years. Connecticut responded by funding benefits for legal immigrants left without coverage, but later moved to cut that program as it faced a multibillion-dollar deficit.

A Hartford Superior Court judge ruled in 2009 that the cuts violated the immigrants’ rights.

The Supreme Court on Friday granted an appeal by the state.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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