State agency to slow down implementation of Medicare Savings Program cuts

Governor Dannel Malloy (WTNH / Kevin Frederick)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)–Thousands of senior and disabled residents of Connecticut can breathe a sigh of relief. Those cuts in the Medicare Savings Program have been stopped.

The cuts will not start on January 1, but it’s only a postponement.

You reached out to News 8 about this. We told your stories and lawmakers and Governor Dannel Malloy were listening.

Related: Thousands of Connecticut seniors facing desperation in 25 days

It means disabled Connecticut residents like 55-year-old Christina Rotharmel in Groton and 60-year-old Dale Betts of Stratford as well as seniors like Linda Heston and her neighbors in Derby have all received a reprieve and will not lose their Medicare Savings Program benefits starting January 1st.

The State Department of Social Services says it will delay the start of those cuts while it explores if any of these residents are eligible for other benefits.  State legislative leaders now have a little more breathing room to see if they can stop these cuts permanently.

By putting the brakes on implementation of this cut to 113,000 Connecticut residents, those seniors and the disabled are assured of the benefit til at least March 1st.

Related: Scramble to fix Medicare Savings Program cuts

“It gives us more time to plan, obviously we would like to get a permanent resolution of that rather than a temporary postponement. But it does, it’s helpful, certainly in the short term,” said Sen. Martin Looney (D-New Haven), the Senate President Pro tem.

The Minority Leader in the House, Rep. Themis Klarides (R-Derby) said,  “It’s good that people will not suffer that loss as of January 1st, but we believe policy-wise, that that money should be put back.”

The Speaker of the House, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin), added, “We understand it is a major problem that’s affecting a great many citizens of the state of Connecticut. We want to fix it.”

The Malloy administration says that over the next two months, the Department of Social Services will attempt to move some of those affected into other types of benefits but most are unlikely to qualify for other coverage.

“Reviews of individual cases so that we can understand the implications and what programs folks might otherwise be qualified for,” said Malloy.

But even though everyone says they want to find a way to permanently stop these cuts, no one knows where the money will come from.  There’s a $208 million dollar budget red ink problem that must be addressed by the end of the month and this postponement of this cut makes it a few million dollars more.

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