Medicaid facing threats (again) in the Governor’s Budget

By Rosana Garcia

When Governor Malloy released his budget for fiscal years 2017-2019, his proposals had cuts to health care and Medicaid/HUSKY.   It’s no secret that the state budget has a deficit of over $1.5 billion dollars next fiscal year, and the Governor’s Budget proposed a lot of cuts and reductions in services.

Tomorrow, at a public hearing in the Human Services Committee, House Bill 7040, which is a Governor’s Bill to implement his proposals, will be discussed.  Threats to Medicaid include:

  • Reducing the income eligibility for HUSKY A parents (and caregivers) from 155% of the federal poverty level (FPL), to 138% of FPL. What does that mean in real dollar terms?  Parents (and caregivers) will lose their HUSKY A coverage if they make more than:
    • $1,868 a month ($22,411 a year) for a family of 2
    • $2,348 a month ($28,180 a year) for a family of 3
    • $2,829 a month (33,948 a year) for a family of 4
  • Capping the adult dental benefit in HUSKY/Medicaid at $1,000.
  • Eliminating the Medicare Part D drug copay protection for dual eligibles (people who are on Medicaid and Medicare, who often have complex health conditions that require medications).

It’s no secret that thuninsured_ff8a8e state

Reducing eligibility in HUSKY A coverage for parents/caregivers = More uninsured people

In 2015, over 17,000 parents and caregivers who relied on the HUSKY A program with incomes over 155% of the federal poverty line were cut from the program.  In the end, only 16% of the parents who lost their benefits got coverage through Access Health CT, despite subsidies that help to pay monthly premiums.

That group of Connecticut residents who lost their coverage were in a higher income level than what is being proposed in HB 7040, which would affect an additional 9,500 people.  Let’s be clear – lowering income eligibility for HUSKY A parents and caregivers is cutting people off of coverage.  At this income level, private health coverage, even with subsidies, is unaffordable.

Other potential negative effects of reducing HUSKY A parent/caregiver eligibility include:

  • Due to the differences in income eligibility between HUSKY A children and parents/caregivers, which can cause confusion, children may not be enrolled in HUSKY A, even if they are eligible; and
  • Even if a parent/caregiver enrolls in coverage through Access Health CT, and manages to pay the monthly premiums, there are more costs associated with a private insurance plan, such as co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles.  Dental coverage would also be an additional expense.  Those who can least afford it are burdened with higher costs that will likely prevent them from accessing care.

Cutting Medicaid eligibility and benefits reduces access

We have to remember that health care affordability isn’t just about lowering costs in the larger system – it’s also about people getting the high-quality health care they need, at a price they can afford.  For some Connecticut residents, health care coverage – and the care that comes with this coverage – is out of reach without the Medicaid program.

Yes, we need a balanced budget, but not on the backs of low-income Connecticut residents, and especially not at the cost of their health care.


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