State lawmakers restore funding to the Medicare Savings Program

State Reps. Jason Perillo, Ben McGorty and state Senator Kevin Kelly voted on Tuesday for a bipartisan plan that would provide funding for the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) through the end of the fiscal year.  The MSP plan was approved in the House and Senate by veto-proof majorities.

“The Medicare Savings Program helps over a 100,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities pay their medical bills,” said Rep. Perillo. “This was one area of the bipartisan budget that didn’t sit well with me and I knew that we had to get back to Hartford to restore this funding.  I will continue to be a strong advocate for seniors and individuals with disabilities and work to make sure they receive the necessary funding they deserve.”

“Helping seniors and individuals with disabilities is always one of our top-priorities,” added Rep. McGorty. “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. 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.”

“Despite the governor’s attempts to disrupt our bipartisan efforts, today the legislature worked together to negotiate a plan to restore this funding. Making this change means we can bring peace of mind to over 100,000 low-income elderly and disabled residents. We also showed that there is enough legislative support to override any attempted veto by Governor Malloy,” said Sen. Kelly. “I hope that as we near the start of the 2018 legislative session we can continue to work together to make the governor’s new economic reality an idea of the past.”

MSP 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.

Among the methods used to restore program funding is a requirement that Gov. Malloy reduce the number of managers and consultants—a provision included in the adopted budget ignored by the governor. Other components include moving human resources-related functions of some state agencies into the state’s Department of Administrative Services, and requiring the governor to find savings in Executive Branch functions while limiting his ability to cut more than 10 percent from any one program.

The 2018 legislative session—a so-called short session—starts Feb. 7 and will see lawmakers focus primarily on issues tied to the state budget.