Health Insurance for Some Undocumented Immigrants Moves Forward

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Following what was described as emotional testimony, lawmakers got closer Thursday to paving the way for undocumented youth to get government-sponsored health insurance. 

“I’m looking at doing youth up to age 18. I looked at California and what they’ve done in California,” Sen. Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport) said. 

Moore said it’s probably not feasible to offer Medicaid to all undocumented immigrants in Connecticut, so she amended the legislation to only include those under the age of 18. 

“I want to say that I read through again last night the testimony and I know a lot of it is emotional from people who are actually suffering from not having health insurance,” Moore said.

Liliana Lopez of New Haven testified through an interpreter that she doesn’t have health insurance and her daughter got really sick. 

“So we took her to the emergency room despite knowing it was going to cost us a lot of money,” Lopez said.

She added: “And again the first thing they always asked was do we have health insurance.” 

The tests her daughter needed were expensive and according to Lopez the hospital didn’t want to give them a referral to a specialist because they didn’t have insurance. 

Because Lopez is undocumented she’s unable to purchase insurance through Access Health CT. She’s not alone in being unable to access health insurance - Dr. Eden Almasude knows what it’s like to be uninsured. 

“I know what it is like to be sick and afraid to seek care because it means making a choice between buying food or paying rent and my health,” Almasude said.   

Almasude said the experience made her a better physician, but, “No child no person should have to make that choice.” 

“I’ve also read about how the hospitals pick up the cost of this so we are paying, but I do believe we have a moral obligation to at least figure out how do we do this," Moore added.

She said that’s why she’s proposing beginning with kids up to the age of 18. 

Republicans on the committee didn’t speak against the proposal, they simply voted against it. 

The bill now heads to the Senate for approval. 

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