HARTFORD—State Reps. Michael Ferguson (R-138) on Monday voted for a bipartisan plan that would provide funding for the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) through the end of the fiscal year.
Upon learning that almost 86,000 low-income seniors would be disqualified and another 27,000 would have their coverage reduced under the new state budget, Ferguson along with other lawmakers petitioned the Secretary of the State to call them back into special session in order to restore the funding for the program.
MSP is a Medicaid program that helps seniors and the disabled pay for Medicare co-insurance, deductibles and premiums. Connecticut was one of five states whose income eligibly limits exceeded the federal minimum level. The budget adopted in October reduced the eligibility thresholds, consequently reducing or eliminating coverage for many of the program’s thousands of participants. The state’s Department of Social Services in December announced it would delay implementation of the eligibility reduction by two months. This gave concerned program participants a reprieve from an unexpected jump in their healthcare costs as lawmakers worked to find $53 million to fund the program through June.
“Many seniors in my district rely on this program for essential medical services that they could not afford otherwise. We need to make sure government is here to protect our most vulnerable citizens. I am happy we were able to restore the program,” said Rep. Ferguson.
The MSP plan was approved in the House through a 130 to 3 vote. The Senate approved the legislation 32 to 1.
Among the methods used to restore program funding is a requirement that Gov. Malloy reduce the number of state managers and consultants—a provision included in the adopted budget ignored by the governor. Other components include moving human resources-related functions of some state agencies into the state’s Department of Administrative Services, and requiring the governor to find savings in Executive Branch functions while limiting his ability to cut more than 10 percent from any one program.
The 2018 legislative session starts February 7. State lawmakers will focus primarily on issues tied to the state budget.