Health Care

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Budget panel would blow by spending cap to restore social service, education funds

Sen. Beth Bye and Rep. Toni Walker at a press conference after releasing the Appropriations Committee's budget proposal.

The legislature’s budget-writing panel recommended adding $514 million in spending to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s plan for the next fiscal year — and embraced a radical new interpretation of the constitutional spending cap — primarily to bolster human services and education. Continue Reading →

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GOP: Seek big labor savings to reduce Malloy’s painful cuts

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, at podium, and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides present Republican budget proposals Friday.

The legislature’s Republican minority argued Friday that Connecticut could avoid most of the painful tax hikes and social service cuts in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget — and offer modest tax relief — by dramatically scaling back labor costs over the next two fiscal years. Continue Reading →

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Still on hold: A solution for long DSS call-wait times

This is a photo of DSS Commissioner Roderick L. Bremby and George Chamberlin, who runs the benefits centers

It took an average of 54 minutes for callers to reach a Department of Social Services worker by phone last month. That’s an improvement over February’s 70-minute average, and one of the lower average monthly wait times in the past year. But client advocates say it’s long past time things be improved in the phone system, which launched in July 2013 as part of a highly touted “modernization” initiative. Continue Reading →

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Despite reservations, CT senators join in approving ‘doc fix’ bill

doctor image by Phalinn Ooi

WASHINGTON — While they had reservations about some provisions of the bill, Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined an overwhelming majority in the U.S. Senate to approve a bill preventing a 21 percent cut in Medicare fees for doctors. Continue Reading →

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After providers complain, lawmakers consider changes to Medicaid audits

visels pharmacy

Legislators are considering changes to the way the state audits Medicaid payments to health care providers, who have complained for years that the process penalizes honest errors and can lead to costs dramatically higher than any identified mistakes. One independent pharmacist got involved in pushing for change after an audit of his drug store found $268 worth of problematic prescriptions — and he faced a penalty of $144,814. Continue Reading →

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As developmentally disabled face cuts, Southbury Training School under renewed scrutiny

Southbury Training School is a home for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Legislators are eyeing overtime costs at Southbury Training School as a way to save money in the tight budget for serving people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, but officials at the agency that runs the institution say those savings are unlikely to be achieved. Continue Reading →

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Is it a gag order or the Malloy administration speaking with one voice?

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget chief, Benjamin Barnes, addresses the Finance Committee

Key legislators say a directive from budget director Benjamin Barnes restricting what agency heads can tell legislators about Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget proposal is hindering lawmakers in doing their jobs and will push more of the budget-writing process behind closed doors. Barnes says the administration simply works together "as one administration, with all our commissioners and agency heads." Continue Reading →

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As legislators struggle with human services cuts, are tax hikes coming?

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Besides living with a sense of panic and staying up at night worrying, Marina Derman has been in advocacy mode lately, trying to convince lawmakers to salvage the program she says saved her family from crisis. She's one of many people waiting for a resolution to the next state budget. Many legislators have criticized the deep cuts to health care and social services in the governor's proposed spending plan, but it's not yet clear how they plan to address the looming $1.3 billion deficit while avoiding cuts some have called untenable. Continue Reading →

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