With lawmakers returning to the state Capitol this week for the 2022 legislative session, people across the state took the opportunity Monday to push for the causes they care most about.
One of those is expanding health care for undocumented immigrants.
There was high emotion on a Zoom call Monday, as people shared their stories of struggling to access health care for themselves or their undocumented family members.
"I came to a country that taxes us equally, but does not allow us to enjoy the benefits equally. Not even the access to basic care,” Javier Villatoro, a New Haven resident, said. "During the pandemic, I worked on the frontlines and I also got sick with the virus. I have a pain that remains in my lungs, especially during winter, but I cannot afford to visit a doctor to review my conditions, let alone to talk about a treatment."
It is something advocates are pushing to change through the Husky 4 Immigrants campaign. Those involved in the grassroots movement want to expand coverage of a Medicaid program called Husky.
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"In the 2021 legislative session, we were successful in expanding Husky Medicaid to undocumented children under the age of 8 and pregnant women,” Brigith Rivera, a Healthcare Campaign fellow, said.
Now they want Husky to be available to all immigrants, regardless of their status.
Two Democratic state lawmakers shared their support on the call.
"I've now served for 14 years, this is my 14th legislative session, and I can't think of anything that we've done that's more important than what we did last year, which is to say that pregnant women, regardless of their status, should have access to basic prenatal care in Connecticut,” Sen. Matt Lesser, who represents the 9th District, said.
"These are our neighbors. These are folks who we work with. They pay taxes,” Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, who represents the 18th District, said.
One Hartford mother of two, Erika Salvatierra, is brought to tears when she thinks about her 8-year-old son aging out of coverage.
Organizers and advocates are now waiting to see how the Connecticut legislature will handle their cause, amongst other issues this session.
"We all know that we can't have a healthy state unless everyone in the state is covered,” Rivera said.