Another potential billion dollar hole in state budget

Politics

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The federal health care battle is expected to come to a boil in the U.S. Senate next week, but there are dire predictions about how the latest Republican health care plan will affect Connecticut residents.  The non partisan Congressional Budget Office is expected to issue its report on the plan Monday or Tuesday, but here in Connecticut political leaders say they already know enough to predict that it will cause another billion dollar red ink hole in the state budget.  The conclusion is that this plan would have an impact on thousands of Connecticut residents, for some, increasing their health care costs and for others, ending their health care coverage.

Approximately 100,000 Connecticut residents get their health insurance coverage through the Obamacare health care exchange known as “Access Health CT.”   It’s estimated that under the Republican Senate health care plan 75 percent of them would lose some or all of the federal subsidy that helps them pay the premiums.Related Content: Connecticut Senators hold emergency hearing about healthcare reform

Also under Obamacare, over 200,000 Connecticut residents became eligible for Medicaid coverage. Many of them adults, but also children under the Husky Children’s Health Care Program.  The expansion also brought more elderly and disabled in nursing homes under the Medicaid umbrella. State government pays over $2 billion a year to cover Medicaid. Under Obamacare; the federal government pays about $3.5 billion.  That’s the part that would get the ax under the Republican plan.  “The Medicaid cuts in this bill will likely mean that Connecticut will receive a federal funding cut in the range of a billion dollars

a year,” said Sen. Chris Murphy/(D) Connecticut).

As you know from our reporting, the State Legislature is currently having great difficulty grappling with a state funding gap of more than $2 billion in each of the next two years with projections of more after that. It’s extremely unlikely the state could make up the difference.

Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman has overseen all aspects of health care reform in Connecticut for the past seven years. She says the reduced subsidies and the Medicaid cut will have direconsequences for thousands, young and old, “Some of our kids that are disabled will be taken off because there won’t be enough money to take care of them.”

Senators Murphy and Blumenthal and other Democrats in Washington say the cuts in the subsidies and Medicaid are all designed to give the wealthy tax breaks on investment and payroll income and tax breaks to insurance companies.

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