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.