HARTFORD – State Representatives Brenda Kupchick (R-132) and Laura Devlin (R-134) voted on Tuesday for a bipartisan plan that would provide funding for the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) through the end of the fiscal year. State Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) also voted for the same plan in the Senate. Last month, the legislators successfully petitioned the General Assembly back into special session in order to address the issue.
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. Legislators in adopting the budget in October 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.
“If we did not act immediately to restore funding for this program in the short term, massive harm would have been done to Connecticut’s elderly and disabled populations,” said Rep. Kupchick. “I hope Connecticut residents are encouraged to see legislators from both parties work swiftly to make sure our most vulnerable citizens are not faced with unexpected cuts to their healthcare coverage.”
“I am grateful we were able to force a petition and vote to restore this vital program. Many seniors in Fairfield rely on this program for essential medical services that they could not afford otherwise. The cut to Medicare Savings Program would have disqualified 86,000 low-income seniors and another 27,000 would have their coverage,” said Rep. Laura Devlin.
“We are doing what is right for seniors in Easton and throughout Connecticut,” said Sen. Hwang. “This bipartisan plan restores funding for Medicaid coverage to tens of thousands of low-income seniors. It restores funding for Medicaid coverage to disabled people on Medicare. We will continue to pass policies in Hartford which protect seniors and the disabled. At the same time, we will work tirelessly to pass policies which help stabilize and grow our economy and improve our quality of life.”
The MSP plan was approved in the House by a 130 to 3 vote and in the Senate by a 32-1 vote. Among the methods used to restore program funding is a requirement that Gov. Malloy reduce the number of 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 where state lawmakers will focus primarily on issues tied to the state budget.