Proposed State Medicaid Changes Prompt Concern

Jun 26, 2012

State officials say a recent Medicaid expansion is over enrolled and costs too much money, so it's asking the federal government for permission to ramp the program down a bit. That move is being met with objections.

In 2010, the state started a Medicaid program to insure some low-income adults. Now, though, the state says too many people have signed up and that there are millions in unanticipated costs. So to save money, Governor Dannel Malloy's Department of Social Services wants to do three things to limit enrollment: deny Medicaid if you have more than $10,000 in assets; count parental assets and income for some people under 26; and limit nursing home stays to 90 days.

The state says that would mean 15,000 to 20,000 people would lose their coverage. And that has Victoria Veltri angry. She's the state's healthcare advocate and spoke at a public hearing. "I think that this waiver proposal as written will exacerbate problems for Medicaid recipients and applicants resulting in lack of coverage or termination of coverage for thousands of Connecticut residents."

Sheldon Taubman is an attorney with the New Haven Legal Assistance Association. He says the state's request is both bad health policy and unworkable, because the state already has a problem processing its Medicaid paperwork. "Workers cannot keep up with the caseload at all."

Then there's this -- the state sent out a letter in early June to all 78,000 people in the program saying their benefits were facing pending changes. That's before the legislature had given its approval, and before the federal government had formally been asked.

State Representative Toni Walker of New Haven wasn't pleased. "The fact that this was out before we passed legislation is a problem. The fact that...we've created panic in a population that's already fragile is a major problem." The state expects to hear back from the federal government this fall.