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As promised, the Governor’s state budget proposal for the next two years released today includes painful cuts. Overall, Medicaid would be cut $283 million (6.8%) in the first year and $317 million (7.2%) in the second year. SAGA would be cut $13 m (5%) and $14 m (6.5%) in the two years. Among the proposals are charging copays to Medicaid clients, premiums for HUSKY adults, increasing HUSKY Part B premiums for children, eliminating most dental care for adults, no coverage for legal immigrants living in the US less than five years, eliminating prenatal care for undocumented immigrants, eliminating interpretation services, eliminating vision and transportation services in SAGA, Medicare Part D cuts, pharmacy cuts, cuts to community health centers, school based health centers, local health departments, AIDS programs, nursing loan forgiveness programs, and new barriers to accessing care and applying for HUSKY. She also proposed eliminating the Office of Health Care Advocate (OHA). OHA has returned $5 to consumers in health care services for every dollar spent on the office. OHA is also funded not by the General Fund, but through an assessment on insurers in a fund with a surplus. Cutting the office will do nothing to address the state’s budget crisis. Cutting the office would only return OHA’s $1 million budget back to insurance companies as well as saving them $5 million/year in unpaid consumer bills. For more detail on the health impact of the Governor’s proposal, click here.
Ellen Andrews