HARTFORD – State Representative John Frey (R-111) on Wednesday voted along with an overwhelming majority of the legislature to override the governor’s veto a bipartisan plan that would provide funding for the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) through the end of the fiscal year. The plan, co-sponsored by Rep. Frey, passed both the House and Senate on January 8th, but was vetoed by the governor shortly after its passage, who cited the budget deficits it could cause.
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. In adopting the bipartisan budget in October, legislators reduced the eligibility to the federal minimum, 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, giving 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.
In December, Rep. Frey said the legislature had a “moral obligation” to reconvene and restore funding for this program in order to stop the harm that this provision of the budget would have on seniors and disabled populations.
“As a fiscal conservative, resolving Connecticut’s budget deficit is chief among my priorities as a legislator, but suddenly eliminating the funding for these people’s healthcare was unacceptable” said Rep. Frey. “The governor’s sudden interest in the budget deficit rings hollow today, only a few months after locking in the catastrophic SEBAC union contract for another ten years and committing to no layoffs for state employees until 2020. Cutting the MSP program hurts so many of our most vulnerable citizens, so I am glad the legislature agreed that this is not the area to make budget cuts.”
The 2018 legislative session—a so-called short session—starts Feb. 7 and will see lawmakers focus primarily on issues tied to the state budget.