Hitting the most vulnerable where it hurts

Make no mistake, our journey will be a long and painful one. But it will be a shared journey. We will share the joys and the disappointments. The tears and the sacrifices… People cannot afford their taxes now. We should not add to their burdens.
There are some fee increases… But no tax increases. There is pain and sacrifice in this budget, but it is shared pain and sacrifice.

Er…not so fast, Governor Rell. Playing a little game of semantics, are we? I’m curious as to how increasing the HUSKY premiums for low income families and cutting services to the most vulnerable at a time when access to affordable health insurance is already an issue for so many families, while not increasing any taxes constitutes “shared pain”?

It sounds to me more like hitting the most vulnerable where it hurts.

Some of provisions of the budget vis-à-vis healthcare:

-Limiting dental benefits to adults under Medicaid and SAGA

-Deferring cost-of-living increases in payments to welfare recipients and aid to the blind and disabled

-Ending state-funded non-emergency medical assistance to legal immigrants here less than five years

-Eliminating declaration of income in HUSKY applications

-Increasing Medicaid copays

-Cutting back AIDS services, community health clinics, school-based health centers, and public health programs.

-Changing state law to cancel the nursing home “re-basing” adjustment, worth $281 million over the next two years.

We need to close the budget gap. That is not in dispute. But is it right to do it on the backs of those who are already struggling to get by?

Regarding the cuts to HUSKY, Connecticut Voices for Children said:

Experience in Connecticut and other states shows that decreasing outreach, increasing enrollment barriers, and increasing out-of-pocket costs for families can save the state money (at least in the short run), but this savings come as a result of keeping eligible children and parents from applying for coverage and getting needed care.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, CT-03, had this to say:

<blockquote"There is no question that given the extremely dire budget circumstances facing Connecticut , balancing the budget is no easy task. But now is not the time to balance the state's budget on the backs of low and middle-income Connecticut residents – many of whom are children. Ultimately, efforts to expand health care coverage will hold little value for our nation's children and families if access to care continues to erode, whether by chipping away at benefits or increasing co-pays and deductibles.

Shelly Sindland quotes the Connecticut Association of Healthcare Facilities: “The Governor has proposed a $330M* reduction in funding for nursing home care in this State over the next two years. A 20% cut in funding for care of the frail and elderly will force reductions of catastrophic proportions, including an unprecedented number of layoffs and facility closings.”

*I’m not sure where they get the $330 M figure .
The CT Health Policy Project and the Journal Inquirer both have the $281M figure.

Having had my share of battles with insurance companies over healthcare claims, I’m also disturbed by the news that Governor Rell plans to do away with the Office of the Healthcare Advocate, an independent state agency that helps consumers resolve issues with their insurance carriers. The office receives its $1 million budget from a levy imposed on insurance companies, so I’m not entirely sure what it saves the state, other than headaches for Governor Rell.

Last year the Healthcare Advocate’s office helped over 2,000 consumers save $5.2 million in claims.

Juan Figueroa, president of the Universal Healthcare Foundation said, <blockquote"In addition to proposing short-sighted cuts to the state’s health care safety net responsible for our state’s most vulnerable residents, the governor’s budget calls for the elimination of the Office of the Healthcare Advocate. This would deal a devastating blow to consumers at a time when advocacy on their behalf is most urgently needed.”

Shared pain and sacrifice? I wonder.

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16 responses to “Hitting the most vulnerable where it hurts

  1. Sarah, you are so wrong. The wealthy in Connecticut are being asked for big sacrifices. Let me make a list for you:

  2. Whoopes, let me try that again.

    Next year, your fellow Greenwich residents, (I hate Greenwich residents, btw), Ned Lamont and Scott Frantz, are going to be making these huge sacrifices to help get Connecticut through the current recession.

    The List:

  3. Shared pain, damn it. Shared pain.

  4. Wonder why someone feels the need for two screen names?

  5. Or should I say alias?

  6. In 2006, the latest year for which such data is available, taxpayers from the Town of Greenwich paid over $598 million in income tax.

    That’s 12.75% of the State’s entire income tax take — as much as the tax paid by the towns of Stamford, New Canaan, Westport and Fairfield (the four next-highest towns) combined, and three times as much as Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury combined. The average Greenwich tax return was more than seven times the state average.

    No sacrifice there. None. Talk about “shared” pain…

  7. I’m betting the general public loved that speech. Approval ratings even beyond Obama-levels.

    Rell came of as confident, caring, strong yet kind. She made the cuts sound like the shot you HAVE to get at the doctor’s office. For each area of greatest public worry, she had a “solution”: jobs, taxes, eduction, and so on. Her summary of all those solutions before closing was killer – a well-written, well-delivered coda. She scared her audience, then opened her arms to lovingly protect them. She promised to be there for us until the sun shines again. And she really looked like she meant it.

    Of course, upon inspection at even the shallowest depth, it’s all a bunch of horse-shit.

    But who has the time to dig any deeper? The ever-so-gentle Dem criticisms that viewers might see on their idiotboxsnews come off as sour grapes from a bunch of arrogant, bloated-old white guys in are-those-really-fancy? suits.
    And if anyone should happen to risk ostracism from their peer group and open a newspaper, they’ll find a big wet zellion-dollar kiss for M. Jodi from the state’s newspaper, the (was it ever?) Current.

    What might it take to break the Spell of Rell? Don’t look to the Democrats – their various and sundry motives are so complex and convulated that even my best Salem-made Ouiji Board couldn’t help me understand them. Risk re-election to help the poor? Talk about the importance of government programs and spending with the honest gravitas of a Mr. Obama? Doesn’t seem likely from this hapless, leaderless crew.

    But where there are blogs, there is hope, right?

    I’d love to hear some of YOUR ideas.

  8. In 2006, the latest year for which such data is available, taxpayers from the Town of Greenwich paid over $598 million in income tax.

    That’s 12.75% of the State’s entire income tax take…The average Greenwich tax return was more than seven times the state average.
    No sacrifice there. None. Talk about “shared” pain…

    Speaking as one of those Greenwich taxpayers (not one of the rich ones, I hasten to add) I’d be interested to know (although this data is probably not available, but it’s more relevant to the point I was making in the post) is how much the avg. Greenwich (or any other high income taxpayer town in CT) paid as a percentage of income. The reason the average Greenwich tax return was more than seven times the state average is because there is a substantial concentration of hedge fund wealth in this town. They pay a lot because they can afford to, just like they can afford to build 27,000 square foot mansions with hockey rinks and basketball courts.

    Do I feel more sorry for the hedge fund guy who can’t take a third vacation to St Barts or the single mom or dad who can’t afford to take the kids to the doctor? Hmm. Let me think…

  9. Horrible!

    New Jersey’s proggesive State Income Tax:
    1.4% > $0
    1.75% > $20,000
    3.5% > $35,000
    5.525% > $40,000
    6.37% > $75,000
    8.97% > $500,000

    Man, that is simply outrageous. Will the last person to leave NJ please turn out the lights? I mean everybody must be leaving, right?

  10. Asking the wealthy to pay an increased income tax will further destabilize our revenue. We are asking a relatively small portion of the population to largely support state government. This is why we’re in trouble now, when the wealthy do not make as much money, neither does the state.

    Also, this odd sense that the wealthy have to “share the pain” confounds me. The wealthy do not ask anything of state government. They are not the recipients of state services.

    I don’t know why asking those who are recipients of state services to contribute more could be considered unfair.

  11. NY’s outlandish State Income Tax brackets:
    4% > $0
    4.5% > $8,000
    5.25% > $11,000
    5.9% > $13,000
    6.85% > $20,000

    Amazing. You’d think all those New Yorkers would be leaving in droves!

  12. Delaware’s ridiculous tax rates:
    2.2% > $2,000
    3.9% > $5,000
    4.8% > $10,000
    5.2% > $20,000
    5.55% > $25,000
    5.95% > $60,000

    Thank goodness CT’s tax structure doesn’t look like that….

  13. Maryland’s obscene tax brackets:

    2% > $0
    3% > $1,000
    4% > $2,000
    4.75% > $3,000
    5% > $150,000
    5.25% > $300,000
    5.5% > $500,000
    6.25% > $1,000,000

  14. Yes — New Jersey is a great model. Let’s be New Jersey North.

    Can we do a poll on this, GC?

  15. I don’t know why asking those who are recipients of state services to contribute more could be considered unfair.

    Because the reason they are recipients of state services in the first place is that they are struggling to make ends meet.

  16. Because the reason they are recipients of state services in the first place is that they are struggling to make ends meet.

    So someone who is making 185% FPL can’t pay a co-pay or a small premium for FREE health insurance?

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