HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — About 75 people rallied on Thursday outside the Capitol in Hartford, but their voices could impact thousands of undocumented immigrants in Connecticut.   

Connecticut Students for a Dream is urging the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee to include funding in the state budget to expand Husky Health coverage for undocumented immigrants ages 12 through 26.  

“Twenty-six also matches [Affordable Cara Act] coverage for you to be able to stay under your parents’ insurance, and so we’re hoping to match that,” said Eric Cruz Lopez, a rally organizer. “If the government thinks [that age is] good enough for families across the country, then it’s good enough for immigrant families here in Connecticut.”   

Currently, undocumented children are eligible for coverage if they enroll before they turn 13, and only until they are 19 years old. 

The group said the funding would help about 5,000 undocumented immigrants and cost about $15 million, or less than 1% of the Medicaid budget.  

Dr. Michelle Shankar, a pediatrician in New Haven, treats immigrant families who may be able to afford an annual physical exam, but are struggling to get other medical needs met.

“[Immigrant patients] pay out of pocket to get their mandatory school physical form, so that they can start school,” Shankar said. “But many of my patients, if they’re ineligible to be covered by Husky, they don’t come to me for the rest of the services that they need,”

She those other services are critical because medical care can prevent future health complications. 

Democratic lawmakers rallying with the group said denying expanded coverage could save millions in health care spending — and save lives.  

“Health care’s a right, health care’s a need,” said Sen. Derek Slap (D-District 5). “It’s a civil right, and it’s cruel and costly.”

Thursday’s rally comes one week before the Appropriations Committee proposes its state spending plan. 

News 8 also reached out to Republican leaders. They have not responded to a request for comment.