Community health center advocates concerned about medicaid cuts


NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — United Community & Family Services serves 17,000 people in eastern Connecticut and today folks there were fighting for their clients.

“To think about those services being cut I mean we are going to have another tragedy in this state,” says Cara Wescott the vice president of Behavioral Health Service for USFS.

UCFS medicaid pics 2She was among several healthcare providers and advocates who met for a round table discussion in Norwich as concerns grow over proposed cuts to medicaid.

They say last year eligibility levels dropped from 201% of the Federal Poverty Level to 155% making 18,000 adults no longer eligible for the state’s Husky plan. Now they say the governor is proposing to drop it again to 138% of the FPL which means a family of three can’t make more than $27,820 a year for the parents to be covered.

“Overall we’re looking at 30,000 families who will be losing coverage,” says Ann Pratt with Connecticut Citizen Action Group.UCFS medicaid pics 3

They’re also concerned funding for the 16 community health center organizations in the state could be in jeopardy.

“If the 4.1 million dollars does not come with health centers then we’re worried about reduction of hours, vacant positions, the potential for longer wait times for appointments,” says Deb Polun with Community Health Center Association of CT.

UCFS medicaid pics 4She says that could push people to use emergency rooms which are a lot more costly than preventative care at community health centers.

Terry and Thomas Richardson are retired and on a fixed income. They praised the care they have gotten at UCFS and their doctor.

“I think if it hadn’t been for him I might not be alive,” says Terry Richardson. “He had watched me so close.”

Legislators are in session until Wednesday and these folks hope savings for the state can be found elsewhere.

“The families that are going to be affected by this are already struggling to make ends meet,” says Yolanda Bones who helps UCFS patients sign up for the coverage available to them.

The big concern is that if the parents lose their healthcare coverage their children will as well even if they’re still eligible.UCFS medicaid pics 1

They says that’s because a lot of times if the parents aren’t enrolling they might not think to enroll they’re children. Also families might lose that healthy habit of getting preventative care that they had when they were all eligible for the Husky plan.

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