New briefs on impact of HUSKY cuts

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Two new briefs were presented yesterday at a legislative briefing by the CT Health Foundation.
Speakers included Jack Hoadley from Georgetown University to describe his research on cost sharing for HUSKY families and cutting coverage for immigrants, and Evelyn Richardson, a mother from Hartford, to discuss the impact of HUSKY cuts on her family. Adults and children in HUSKY make up 23% of Medicaid costs but are only 23% of the population. Under the new federal stimulus funding, CT is reimbursed over 60% for those costs. In response to the growing state budget deficit, the Governor has proposed new premiums and copays for HUSKY families and eliminating completely coverage for legal immigrants. Premiums would impact 18,000 HUSKY parents and it is estimated that 8,000 of them could no longer afford coverage and would become uninsured. CT would also risk losing $1.3 billion in desperately needed new federal funding by imposing premiums which would only save the state $21 million. New copays on services would likely reduce utilization of critical services and drugs, causing increases in ER visits and hospitalizations. Providers responsible for collecting these copays may decide to stop participating in HUSKY. CT now pays with all state dollars to cover 6,000 legal immigrants. New federal law allows the state to collect federal funding for 2.500 of those immigrant children and pregnant women replacing $10 million of the estimated $50 million cost of the program. Studies estimated that every dollar cut from prenatal care costs $3.33 in extra postnatal care and $4.63 in other childhood services.
Evelyn Richardson described caring for her family working three jobs, one full time and two part time, and still struggling to make ends meet. Despite working many hours for three employers, she has needed Medicaid coverage for her family for over twenty years. Her children suffer from asthma, nut allergies, and eczema. She needs three sets of emergency medications for her children – one at home, one at school and one at child care. That would involve paying three times the copays. She said between rent, food and keeping the gas and lights on she would have great difficulty finding extra money for premiums and copays under the Governor’s proposal.
Ellen Andrews