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Proposed Cuts to Health Coverage Raise Concerns

Proposed cuts to the state’s health insurance program would affect about 9,000 Connecticut parents. (James Gathany, Judy Schmidt/
Proposed cuts to the state’s health insurance program would affect about 9,000 Connecticut parents. (James Gathany, Judy Schmidt/
April 20, 2016

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. - Advocates are concerned that Gov. Dannel Malloy's proposed cuts to the state's health insurance program could leave thousands without coverage.

The governor wants to eliminate coverage for parents with incomes over 138 percent of the federal poverty level, who have children enrolled in the state's HUSKY Health program.

Jane McNichol, public policy advocate for the Legal Assistance Resource Center, says this would be the second year in a row the income cap has been lowered and of the first few hundred who have already lost HUSKY coverage only relatively few bought insurance through the state's insurance exchange.

"Twenty-five percent bought on the exchange," says McNichol. "And 75 percent didn't so it's an indication the exchange is really not a viable option for people at this income level."

She says most of those affected by last year's cuts, about 18,000 people, won't lose their coverage until August 1.

And McNichol points out that, with a $220 million budget gap to close, the savings to the state from the second round of cuts would be minimal in the first year.

"They're only projecting saving $900,000," she says. "To the extent that this saves money the big money comes in the later years. So it's not even a good fix for the budget for this year."

The proposal would only cut insurance for parents, not their children. But studies have shown when parents lose health coverage their children often do too.

Malloy has said he will not raise taxes again this year to balance the budget. But McNichol maintains right now Connecticut has a Medicaid system that has been working well for the state's low-income residents.

"We should not be sacrificing that to this budget situation," she says. "Particularly when we haven't looked at revenue at all this year."

The governor has also proposed more than $5 million in cuts to dental services for children in low-income families.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT