April 18th Health Care Action Day brings activists to Hartford

By Ethan Handa |

Ethan Handa is a first-year graduate student at the Yale School of Public Health.  He is interning with the Foundation this semester.  He attended his first grassroots action day at the State Capitol on April 18th.

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At Protect Our Care CT’s second Health Care Action Day, we saw how a group of people can be mobilized to take action and attempt to provoke health care justice out of their representatives.  The event convened in a nearby church, where health care advocates and leaders spoke on 4 specific bills and issues that have been the focus of Protect Our Care CT’s legislative advocacy this session.

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Poll Shows Connecticut Residents Want Action on High Prescription Drug Costs

By Jill Zorn |

DSC00742.JPGConnecticut residents are worried they won’t be able to afford the prescription drugs they need to stay healthy.  They also strongly support a range of government actions to fight back against rising prescription drug prices, across party lines.

These views were among the results of a poll released at a press conference on April 12 at the Legislative Office Building coordinated by Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut.  The statewide poll had over 900 respondents and was conducted by Altarum’s Healthcare Value Hub in early February.

Speaking at the press conference, Frances Padilla, President of the Foundation, said, “The poll shows very clearly that Connecticut residents want action, regardless of their political affiliation.  They should not have to choose between taking their medications and putting food on the table.”

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What Connecticut Can Learn From Oregon’s Prescription Drug Transparency Bill

pharma.jpgIn the state-by-state war against high drug prices, Oregon is the latest state setting an example for Connecticut.

Oregon’s bill, HB 4005, was signed into law in mid-March by Governor Kate Brown.  It is a prime example of state legislation that pushes for greater transparency and accountability from pharmaceutical corporations in an effort to address the rising cost of prescription drugs.

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What Health Care Bills are Still Alive in Hartford – Part 2

By Rosana G. Ferraro |

capital3Earlier this week we updated you on the status of some of the health care bills at the Capitol, focusing on bills that focused on prescription drug costs and protecting people from federal actions that erode health care coverage – today we’ll wrap up with Part 2 (read Part 1 here).

Quick summary of where the legislative session is at: After the flurry of public hearings and action deadlines in most committees, we have a clearer picture of what bills are still alive in the session – and which bills died in committee.  We’re focusing on bills that address some of the Foundation’s ideas for action we discussed before the session began.

First off – the time for action on restoring Medicaid cuts is now – you can check out our action alert with more information here. Continue reading

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What Health Care Bills are Still Alive in Hartford – Part 1

Rosana G. Ferraro |

capital3After the flurry of public hearings and action deadlines in most committees, we have a clearer picture of what bills are still alive in the session – and which bills died in committee.

First off – the time for action on restoring Medicaid cuts is now – you can check out our action alert with more information here.

Before the legislative session started,  the Foundation pointed out some ideas for action.  We’ll revisit these some of these ideas an update today – and wrap up with the rest in Part 2 (coming this week!). Continue reading

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ACTION ALERT: Make Another Call For Medicaid Restoration!

Call your legislators to help restore Medicaid!

Yes, we’re asking you to make a call for Medicaid again.  The Appropriations Committee must take final action by Thursday, April 5, this may be our last opportunity to push for restoration of Medicaid cuts!  Keep scrolling to get all the details of how to reach out to legislators.  Click here for a fact sheet on this issue.

We are asking the Appropriations Committee to include restoration of Medicaid cuts in a FY ’19 budget bill.  This includes:

  • Funding to continue the Medicare Savings Program at current eligibility levels (saving about 113,000 seniors and people with disabilities from cuts to this essential Medicaid program, which covers unaffordable Medicare premiums and cost-sharing payments, which cuts otherwise will go into effect on July 1st)
  • Restoration of HUSKY A parents’ eligibility to 155% FPL (saving about 13,300 adults from elimination of their Medicaid coverage, which otherwise happens on January 1, 2019)
  • Removal of the cap on HUSKY adult dental services (restoring access to full dental services for about 16,000 Medicaid enrollees per year)
  • Restoration of primary care reimbursement rates to 100% of the 2014 Medicare rates (protecting primary care access for Medicaid enrollees of all ages)

What To Say & Who To Contact

What to tell legislators:

Start by telling them who you are and that you are a constituent calling about Medicaid cuts.  If you are personally affected by these cuts, make sure to tell them!

Then ask them to:

  • Restore Medicaid cuts in a 2019 budget bill, including cuts to the Medicare Savings Program, HUSKY A for parents, dental coverage for adults, and primary care rates.
  • Children, parents, elderly, individuals with disabilities and other adults in your district rely on Medicaid for their health (click here for town-by-town numbers of Medicaid recipients)
  • Can not balance the budget on the backs of those with the least
  • Do not just move around cuts to other important programs that serve Connecticut residents
  • Legislators may ask “How do we pay for this?

End by thanking them for their time and for protecting residents on Medicaid.

Who do I call?

First, call your own legislators.  Everyone has one Representative in the House, and a Senator in the Senate.  Don’t know who your legislators are?  Click here to FIND YOUR LEGISLATORS.

If your legislator is not on the Appropriations Committee, please ask them to bring your message to the Committee and to advocate on your behalf.

Another way to call: Use the switchboard phone numbers (below) and ask for your legislator or their aide.

How do I know if my legislators are on the Appropriations Committee?

Click here for a list of Appropriations Committee members.

Or even easier?  When you call, just ask the person you speak with if the legislator is on the Appropriations Committee.

Who else can I call?

Second, feel free to call legislators on the Appropriations Committee.  Click here for a list of Appropriations Committee members.

Can I email legislators instead?

It’s okay to email legislators, but they do get a lot of email — it might be better to call first, and follow up with an email.

Anything else I can do?

Yes!

A little more about the issue and the Appropriations Committee:

The Appropriations Committee held several days and evenings of hearings in February to hear from state agencies and the public.  Its Subcommittees, including the Human Services Subcommittee, have made their recommendations, and the leaders of the Committee have been reviewing those recommendations (a previous alert urged contacts with the Human Services Subcommittee).  Now is the time to influence the full Appropriations Committee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Medicaid Public Option for Connecticut?

By Jill Zorn |

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In the midst of the flurry of health care bills under consideration at the capitol, there is one more bill to highlight, HB 5463:  An Act Concerning a Medicaid Public Option.  The Human Services Committee held a public hearing on the bill yesterday, March 20.

HB 5463 proposes that the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, in consultation with the Office of Health Strategy and the Health Care Cabinet, conduct a study on how a Medicaid public option, called HUSKY E, could be offered as a choice on Connecticut’s health insurance marketplace, Access Health CT.  It suggests an aggressive timeline for the study to be completed and also proposes deadlines for a waiver request to be submitted to the federal government and for the Medicaid option to be implemented.

While there is not a lot of detail in the bill, it specifically states that steps be taken to “ensure the HUSKY E plan does not diminish the long-term sustainability of or negatively impact the Medicaid program.”  It also includes a provision to maximize access to “necessary health services…by applying any excess of funds received over plan costs to increased reimbursement rates for providers.”

Other states are considering establishing a pubic option based on the Medicaid program.  Among them are New Mexico, which passed a bill to study a Medicaid buy-in option, and Colorado, where legislation is expected to be introduced soon.  Nevada passed a bill last year, but it was vetoed by the governor.

In the Foundation’s testimony in support of the bill, we included a reminder that the idea of a public option is not new in Connecticut:

In 2009, Connecticut passed PA 09-148, to create the SustiNet plan, a public option that would be anchored in both Medicaid and the State Employee Health Plan.  The SustiNet Health Partnership Board, co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and Comptroller Kevin Lembo, began meeting in September 2009 to plan implementation of SustiNet.  Five advisory committees and three task forces were convened and more than 160 Connecticut residents participated in the planning process.   A final report was submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly in January 2011.

Several other organizations submitted testimony in favor of HB 5463, including Connecticut Citizen Action Group, the Office of the Healthcare Advocate, Connecticut Voices for Children and Comptroller Lembo.

Here is an excerpt from the Comptroller’s testimony:

The status quo of high premiums, high deductibles and annual double-digit premium increases is unsustainable. We need to take bold state-level action to ensure quality and affordable coverage for the growing number of residents who do not have access to employer-sponsored health coverage. A Medicaid public option has the potential to lower premiums, stabilize the market and provide a viable insurance option for Connecticut residents who must purchase their coverage on the individual market.

Echoing the Comptroller’s call for bold action, the Foundation’s testimony concluded:

Universal Health Care Foundation has testified this session in support of bills that help to stabilize the current health insurance marketplace.  We firmly believe it is time to consider the bolder approach suggested in HB 5463.  We urge passage of this bill, to move Connecticut closer to the goal of universal, affordable, quality health coverage and care.

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