Low-Income Residents May Be Required to Buy Health Insurance

One of the major cuts to social services contained in Gov. Dannel Malloy's two-year budget is a change in eligibility for some Medicaid recipients who are covered through either HUSKY or Medicaid.

Children on the program would remain covered even though their parents may need to purchase plans on the Access Health CT exchange.

Roughly 34,000 adults could be forced to purchase health insurance.

Malloy's plan banks on the savings worth $120 million over two years to help balance the budget and to keep spending under the statutorily obligated cap.

"It's still very early in the budget process," said State Sen. Gayle Slossberg, of Milford, who serves as vice chair of the Human Services Committee.

She worries whether families with incomes between $27,000 and $40,000 who are targeted in the budget will even be able to afford to pay premiums and copays for the first time.

“That’s really the question we have to ask," Slossberg said. "What is the real world impact for these populations, and how are we going to address that?”

Advocates for the poor say health outcomes could become worse purely because of requirements leading to new out-of-pocket costs.

“Even if the copay is fairly low – and some of these copays aren’t that low – people don’t go to the doctor when they know they’re going to have to come up with that copay and they have other priorities," said Jane McNichol, with the Legal Resource Assistance Center of Connecticut. “This would be a step backwards that we shouldn’t take.”

Malloy said the budget cut decisions were "tough" and lawmakers have said they will work on crafting a budget that's likely to change over the next several months.

A similar proposal failed in the legislature in 2013.

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