Patient Advocates From Across Connecticut Visit the State Capitol to Urge Lawmakers to Protect Vital Funding for State’s M

Patient Advocates Encourage State Legislators to Reconsider Cuts to Connecticut’s Medicaid Program and HUSKY Healthcare that Threaten Patient Access to Affordable, Quality Care

HARTFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Patient advocates from across Connecticut descended on the Capitol in Hartford yesterday as part of the National Patient Advocate Foundation’s (NPAF) Connecticut State Advocacy Day to urge the state’s General Assembly to block cuts to Medicaid and HUSKY Healthcare, state programs that provide low-income patients and families with access to affordable, high-quality healthcare.

“I am excited and honored to be part of NPAF’s Connecticut State Advocacy Day,” said Jennifer McGarry, a NPAF patient ambassador from Meriden. “Educating our state legislators about the importance of stable Medicaid and HUSKY program funding is essential because for almost a half a million Medicaid patients throughout Connecticut, life depends on the availability of quality healthcare. Medicaid and HUSKY program coverage is vital for patients’ ability to access needed care following a diagnosis.”

The state Medicaid program provides a vital safety net to Connecticut residents who can’t afford healthcare coverage; however, funding cuts to this essential program were recently proposed in the Governor’s Deficit Mitigation Plan. The plan proposes to create savings to the state by implementing cost sharing requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries and reducing Medicaid provider reimbursement rates. Cost-sharing policies have been found to result in the loss of Medicaid coverage for patients, therefore leading to delays in care, increased emergency room visits and higher healthcare costs.

The Governor has also proposed several changes to the HUSKY program in her FY2011 budget that would increase costs to families through higher co-pays and insurance premiums, limitations on non-prescription drug coverage and restrictions on existing services. The HUSKY B program, which provides healthcare coverage to nearly 16,000 uninsured children, is at risk of losing more than $2 million in funding alone. Patient advocates warn that these deep cuts may abate the availability of affordable healthcare to low-income individuals and families that need it most.

Further punctuating proposed program cuts are harsh economic realities and increased unemployment, which drive more people into the Medicaid and HUSKY programs. Connecticut’s unemployment rate, which has been steadily increasing in recent years, is currently at nine percent. For many unemployed individuals and their families, Medicaid allows them to access needed healthcare without cost or financial status being a barrier to care.

In recent years, there has been a sizeable increase in both adult and child Medicaid enrollees across the state. Between June 2007 and June 2009, state enrollment for adults in the Medicaid program rose by 13.8 percent, well above the 9.5 percent national average. Additionally, children enrolled in the Medicaid program rose by 14.5 percent, compared to a 12.1 percent increase nationally.

“Affordable healthcare coverage should be available to every Connecticut resident,” said Nancy Davenport-Ennis, President and CEO of NPAF. “We will continue to work with the Connecticut legislature to ensure that their state healthcare programs are adequately funded to meet the growing needs of the state’s citizens.”

NPAF and its companion organization, the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF), were established in 1996 on the principle that health care is a basic human need and shared social responsibility. NPAF is dedicated to working with Congress and all levels of government to overcome challenges and create solutions that will allow for high-quality, affordable health care for all. In 2009, PAF case managers assisted 55,384 patients, each with chronic, life-threatening or debilitating conditions struggling to access health care. Additionally, PAF responds to millions of online requests for information or chat line support. For more information see www.npaf.org.



CONTACT:

for the National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF)
Ellen Almond, (703) 548-0019

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  Connecticut

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Health  Public Policy/Government  Healthcare Reform  Other Health  Other Policy Issues  Public Policy  State/Local  Professional Services  Insurance  General Health

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