Thousands of Kids May Soon Lose Health Coverage

Thousands of Connecticut kids may soon lose their health coverage.

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is known as Husky B, is at risk of shutting down if Congress doesn't act.

Before Husky B, the Stratton family, of Manchester, found themselves struggling to keep up with all the medical bills and for them, health insurance is critical.

"We were making mortgage payments on a house and pretty much mortgage payments to the medical industry," said William Stratton.

Last year, their 8-year-old son Nicholas spent a week in the hospital due to intense seizures.

"His epilepsy was very bad where he was 50 to 60 seizures a day," Stratton said.

Nicholas has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and is developmentally delayed. His family said the 8-year-old must take a lot of medication, so he doesn't eat solid food and also isn't potty trained. William's wife, Kristy, is a full-time caregiver for Nicholas.

Recently, the family hit a big milestone when they realized it had been more than a year since Nicholas' last seizure thanks to finally finding the right medications that work for him.

But in the last 24 hours, William and Kristy said they've been dealing with a nightmare. They just found out that the insurance they depend on for Nicholas and his older brother, Nathan, may be coming to an end.

"Financially, it's devastating. We've got to try to figure, try to pick up the pieces somewhere and make ends meet," Stratton said.

Husky B gives low-cost health coverage to children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to purchase private insurance.

So far, Congress has not acted to extend the program.

On Tuesday, Senator Chris Murphy took to the Senate floor and implored fellow lawmakers to reauthorize federal funding, saying that without it more than 17,000 low and middle-income children could be affected in Connecticut alone.

"The holidays are about our commitment to one another and we can re-up on our commitment this week by doing the right thing," Murphy said.

"You can pass taxes fast but when it comes to people's health we're sitting here trying to figure out what's going on," Stratton said.

Stratton said he can't understand what could be controversial about giving kids much-needed health insurance.

"You're forcing people to make options and take chances and it's not right. You're playing with people's health," Stratton said.

The CT Department of Social Services (DSS) said Congress allowed funding to expire in September and that the state has been using leftover federal funds to keep the program running. If nothing changes, DSS said Husky B will shut down at the end of January.

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