HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s not every day 400 doctors get on the same page in an effort to impact policy.
On Thursday, doctors said they want Medicaid for all undocumented children.
“Personally, healthcare is a human right,” Dr. Heidi Zapata, infectious disease doctor of Yale New Haven said.
Dr. Zapata, native of Nicaragua, was undocumented until age 12. She said she hasn’t forgotten what that felt like, noting that her family was unable to pay for medicine, doctor visits, or hospital stays. Now, Dr. Zapata sees first hand what can happen to undocumented populations amid a health crisis.
“With COVID, I saw them coming when they were already at death’s door–it was already too late because they were scared they couldn’t pay for it,” Dr. Zapata said. “Once we treat them then there’s the issue of discharge. We can’t safely discharge them because they don’t have healthcare. Some patients have had to stay in the hospital for years. It doesn’t make sense.”
Healthcare is a human right and the state’s Medicaid program — known as Husky — should be expanded to all kids under 18. That’s the message 400 physicians are sharing with state lawmakers via a letter Thursday.
“Prevention is better than cure,” South Windsor Sen. Saud Anwar (D) said. “These kids are here in the State of Connecticut. If we do not provide them preventive care, they’re getting emergency care.”
Last year, the Husky program was expanded to include undocumented kids 8 and under. Legislative leaders say it would cost 1.9 million dollars to expand it further to include kids 18 and under. Sen. Anwar, who is also a physician, says the costs of not doing it are greater on the backend.
“1.9 million dollars is far less than 19 million dollars,” Sen. Anwar said.
This is all part of a so-called “Week of Action” with events planned every day to encourage lawmakers to expand Husky coverage further before the close of the legislative session on May 4.