New London Seniors Fear Looming Medicare Savings Program Cuts

As the clock ticks on looming eligibility cuts to the Medicare Savings Program, the people who would be impacted – seniors and the disabled – are pleading for help.

The new state budget chopped the income threshold.

State lawmakers are hoping to force a special session to address the cuts by signing petitions and asking Gov. Dannel Malloy to call a special session.

The new restrictions were supposed to go into effect on Jan. 1, however, the cuts have been postponed until March to review individual cases. 

If state lawmakers choose to fully restore the program, they’d need to find about $54 million to fund the rest of the fiscal year and another $130 million the year after that.

"It is a life or death [situation]," New London resident Dana Parandes said.

Parandes fears he’ll no longer be able to afford the health coverage he’s receiving as part of the Medicare Savings Program.

Since Parandes is receiving cancer treatment, he said, with the proposed cuts, he’d be on the hook for about an extra $130 a month and is not able to work to offset that.

"If I’m not seeing a physician, I can’t very well get medication," Parandes said.

The governor’s office said the cuts to the Medicare Savings Program would impact up to 113,000 seniors or people with disabilities.

Rep. Chris Soto said about 1,000 people would feel the impact in New London. That’s about 3 percent of the city’s population.

Soto and Sen. Paul Formica addressed concerns at the New London Senior Center on Wednesday.

Both men signed a petition to force a special session to help block the cuts.

"We talk about a fix. There’s not necessarily going to be a fix. We’re looking to be looking for another program to cut," Soto said.

Soto wants to lessen that burden by redistributing funds. He mentioned education funding for towns that are over-funded and have decreasing enrollments.

Formica wouldn’t elaborate on where he thinks funding should be shifted from. But he said there’s a bi-partisan plan.

"We have a fix and it’s been agreed on by the four caucuses. We just need an opportunity to present it," Formica said.

A representative from the Senior Resources Agency on Aging, an area non-profit, was on hand, to break down the situation to those in attendance.

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