By Lynne Ide
Much has been written about the dash to pass a state budget before last night’s deadline. Just as in the Cinderella tale, midnight passed and now in the light of day, we see clear winners and losers.
Who are the winners?
For one, the average health care consumer, who will benefit from the reforms in a rare bipartisan bill passed on June 1. Key features of the landmark legislation are explained our press release and in this CT Mirror article.
Another winner is pregnant women, who were designated to be cut from HUSKY (Medicaid) coverage in the governor’s original budget. Thankfully, this short-sighted proposal was not carried out by the legislature.
Who are the losers?
Sadly, the state budget creates more than a few.
Connecticut slips backward and eliminates health coverage through HUSKY (Medicaid) for 20,000+ people. The budget drops eligibility for HUSKY from 185 percent to 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
Granted the affected people will be eligible to purchase subsidized health plans via the state health exchange, Access Health CT, but reports show many will risk going uninsured in the face of out-of-pocket costs they can not afford.
In the post-Newtown focus of the mental health challenges of today’s world, the budget cut $8.5 million in grants for mental health and substance abuse programs. This is much less than the proposed $25.5 million in cuts. So the compromise is a big improvement, but it still leaves a gaping hole.
It’s clear that Connecticut has feet on two paths. One is leading us to better health, while the other takes us backwards. This session showed that we have the ability to take the right track, however, until we get both feet moving in the same direction our progress will be slow.