Legislators back Medicare program

State representatives David Rutigliano (R-123rd), Laura Devlin (R-134th) and Ben McGorty (R-122nd) voted on Monday for a bipartisan plan that would provide funding for the Medicare Savings Program through the end of the fiscal year. Last month, the legislature went into special session in order to address the issue.

The Medicare Savings Program is a Medicaid program that helps seniors and the disabled pay for Medicare co-insurance, deductibles and premiums. Connecticut was one of five states whose income eligibility limits exceeded the federal minimum level. Legislators in adopting the budget in October reduced the eligibility to the federal minimum, consequently reducing or eliminating coverage for many of the program’s thousands of participants. The state’s Department of Social Services in December announced it would delay implementation of the eligibility reduction by two months, giving concerned program participants a reprieve from an unexpected jump in their healthcare costs as lawmakers worked to find $53 million to fund the program through June.

“Restoring this vital funding for the Medicare Savings Program avoids considerable harm that would have been done to our state’s elderly and disabled populations,” said Rutigliano. “In Trumbull, I was most worried about the seniors in Stern Village who live on fixed incomes and could ill-afford the loss of this program’s medial services.”.

Devlin said she was grateful to have helped force a vote on the issue.

“The cut to Medicare Savings Program would have disqualified 86,000 low-income seniors and another 27,000 would have their coverage.”

Helping seniors and individuals with disabilities is always  a top priority, McGorty said.

“This year we will face more fiscal challenges, which will unfortunately continue unless we take greater steps to pass bold policies that focus on spurring economic growth,” he said. “I am ready to return to Hartford in February for the 2018 session to work with my colleagues to stabilize our fiscal house and protect funding for those that need it the most.”

The plan was approved in the House by a 130 to 3 vote and in the Senate by a 32-1 vote. The 2018 legislative session starts February 7 where state lawmakers will focus primarily on issues tied to the state budget.