NAUGATUCK – State Representative Rosa Rebimbas (R-70) voted in favor of a bipartisan plan, H.B. 7601, that will provide funding for the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) through the end of the fiscal year during a special session of the General Assembly on January 8, 2018.
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. Connecticut’s ongoing fiscal and budget crisis resulted in a reduction in income 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.
“Although Connecticut is facing one of the worst fiscal crises in its history, there are certain programs we simply cannot afford to cut without proper notice and adequate time for people to plan for these changes,” said Rep. Rebimbas. “Thousands of seniors and disabled individuals rely on these funds for basic healthcare needs, which is why we pushed for a special session to address this immediately. I am proud that we found a temporary bipartisan solution. More adjustments will be needed in the months to come, but yesterday’s session gave me confidence in this legislature’s ability to govern responsibly.”
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 bill, which passed the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, now awaits Governor Malloy’s signature, or veto. The 2018 legislative session will begin on February 7, 2018 when legislators are expected to focus on additional budget-related matters.