HARTFORD – State Representative Richard Smith (R-108) voted on Tuesday for a bipartisan plan that would provide funding for the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) through the end of the fiscal year. Last month, 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.
“The outcome of our special session today should come as a relief to the elderly and disabled populations who were faced having their healthcare coverage eliminated or sharply reduced, and it was encouraging that restoring funding for the MSP could be done on a bipartisan basis,” said Rep. Smith. “Providing for our must vulnerable citizens is a critical function of our government, which we must remember as we restructure our policies and address the persistent budget deficit.
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.