CT to assist 18,000 parents losing state Medicaid coverage

This is a picture of Access Health's New Britain store

Arielle Levin Becker / The CT Mirror

Access Health\’s New Britain store

Leaders of the Connecticut’s health insurance exchange announced Thursday that they would work in partnership with three other state agencies to assist up to 18,000 low-income parents who would lose their state-sponsored Medicaid health coverage on Aug.1 because of budget cuts.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, chairwoman of the Access Health CT governing board, said these individuals may qualify for federal subsidies to help them purchase insurance through the state exchange, or they might qualify for other Medicaid-funded assistance.

“Our efforts will center around connecting them to the options so they choose the healthcare coverage that best meets their needs,” Wyman said.

More than 732,000 people were covered by Connecticut’s Medicaid program, known as HUSKY, at the start of the calendar year.

One component of this program, HUSKY A, covers minor children and their parents, and Connecticut currently offers the most generous eligibility standards of any state.

Parents currently are eligible for coverage if they earn less than 201 percent of the federal poverty level. Starting Aug. 1 that would drop to 155 percent.

For example, a parent with two children would be eligible now by earning less than $40,522 per year. On Aug. 1, the limit would drop to $31,248.

According to the lieutenant governor’s office, that still remains one of the two most generous plans in the nation. Only Connecticut and the District of Columbia offer an eligibility threshold above 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

“At 155 percent of the federal poverty level for parents and caretaker relatives, Medicaid eligibility in Connecticut is easier to reach than in the rest of the nation, which sets a 138 percent threshold,” Wyman added. “But this is a change for many HUSKY A caretakers, so we want to assist them in finding and enrolling in new plans.”

The reduced threshold, approved by the 2015 General Assembly and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, is expected to save Connecticut $87 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

According to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, state finances had been on pace to run nearly $1 billion in deficit in the upcoming fiscal year before a wide array of spending cuts were ordered.

James Wadleigh, CEO for Access Health, said the exchange will begin a “personalized outreach” effort on June 2 that includes multiple telephone calls, mailings and enrollment fairs.

The majority of affected residents are located in urban centers, including: Bridgeport, Danbury, Hartford, New Haven, Norwich, Stamford and Waterbury, Wadleigh said, adding that outreach efforts will begin in these communities.

The Department of Social Services, the Office of the Healthcare Advocate and the Office of Policy and Management will assist the exchange in this program.

“We all want to make sure these residents have continuous healthcare coverage with no gaps,” Wadleigh said.

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