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Friday’s meeting was depressing. The Community Health Centers reported on their large increases in patient volume made possible by investments in infrastructure. In 2008, CT’s clinics provided 263,043 patients with over 1.2 million encounters. Unfortunately, the Governor’s proposed cuts will undermine those gains just as demand for clinic services are up sharply.

DSS outlined the program cuts they will be making without the need for legislative approval. Those cuts include eliminating any transportation for SAGA patients, already cut to the bone. According to DSS, the types of transportation that will be cut are trips to dialysis and chemotherapy. (This means patients receiving chemotherapy will have to take a bus home after treatments.) DSS also intends to increase premiums in Charter Oak between $28 and $78 monthly per income band; those increases will be phased in to begin in February. Interestingly, Charter Oak applications have leveled off in recent months and HUSKY/Charter Oak applications are actually down – difficult to understand given unemployment numbers. Unfortunately more HUSKY/Charter Oak and Charter Oak applications are being denied.

In a bit of good news, DSS reported on significant progress in recruiting providers for the PCCM expansion effective Jan. 1st, particularly in the New Haven area. An army of independent work-study students, interns and volunteers with the CT Health Policy Project and New Haven Legal Assistance have been working hard in the area including mailings and phone calls to all practice managers in the region, provider forums, visiting provider offices, and a media campaign. We’ve also been reaching out to consumers through mailings, calls, other community organizations, newsletters, schools and churches. We have printed brochures, flyers, and other outreach materials.
Ellen Andrews