HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — With just 10 days remaining in the state budget year, Governor Dannel Malloy and legislative leaders have scheduled one more budget summit to see if there is common ground on solving the state budget crisis before July 1st.
On Tuesday, health care providers from around the state made a plea that the state’s $2 billion-plus Medicaid funding not be cut as proposed because it will bring dire consequences for thousands of Connecticut residents.
750,000 Connecticut residents depend on some form of Medicaid. That’s one out of every five Connecticut residents. Between federal and state budget cutting, it’s being predicted that number will be reduced by thousands.
Many Connecticut families are familiar with Medicaid because one or both of their elderly parents’ monthly nursing home bill is paid for by the program. In some nursing homes, Medicaid clients make up 60 to even 70 percent of the patients and residents. Thousands more Connecticut residents are covered by Medicaid at community health clinics, including behavioral health providers and social workers. This also includes dental services, as well as the Medicaid-Medicare savings cost sharing for low income elderly and disabled residents.
One estimate is that 50,000 or more Medicaid recipients will lose health coverage.
“There is no place left to cut. There is no waste. There is no fat anywhere in the community non-profit system,” said Maria Coutant Skinner, the Executive Director of McCall’s Behavioral Health in Litchfield.
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The operators of these services said Tuesday that previous budget cuts have already put them teetering on the edge.
Alice Forrester of the Clifford Beers Clinic in New Haven said, “Cutting Medicaid and Medicaid services means agencies like mine will either have to get smaller or close.”
Bonnie Muller of the Friends Center for Children in New Haven stated, “I estimate that 52 percent of our 44 pre-school families would be affected by cuts to Medicaid proposed in the state budget.”
Joseph Futschik of the Family Intervention Center in Waterbury added, “One client recently told me that should this materialize she sees herself as being homeless.”
They are suggesting expanding the state sales tax to pet grooming, haircuts, legal fees, taxi rides, and other services, but while also reducing the sales tax rate.
Derek Thomas, who conducted the research for the New Haven based Voices for Children, explained, “You could include services and lower the rate and still raise more than a billion dollars.”
The governor’s office noted that many of these proposed sales tax exemptions have been proposed in the past and are always met with strong opposition.
A spokesperson added, “These are all decisions we wish we didn’t have to make.”