CT should loosen Medicaid limits for people who are older or have disabilities, advocates say
Brenda Moore has difficulties moving independently and lives with mental illness. For the past three years, she’s been a recipient of HUSKY C, Connecticut’s Medicaid program for adults under 65, as well as adults living with disabilities.
Since emergency COVID-19 policies have come to an end, HUSKY C eligibility requirements have returned and made it more challenging for people to qualify. Daily life is hard, Moore said.
“It's hard because without that program, a lot of people are gonna be at nursing homes and it's gonna be hard for us to live on our own, where we are comfortable,” said Moore, who’s 59. “Without HUSKY C bringing up the income, we are not gonna make it much longer.”
Moore’s one of many people enrolled in HUSKY C who have to navigate strict income and asset requirements, advocates say.
Advocates are calling for changes to HUSKY C. They argue its income and asset qualifications are essentially discriminatory because they keep people living at the edge of poverty to qualify for the services.
“There are approximately 14,000 people in Connecticut that this will affect,” said Holly Hackett, an administrative assistant at Keep the Promise coalition. “Medicare does not cover homecare, community health support or things like that.”
In order to qualify, applicants must meet certain income and asset levels, which vary within the state.
Hackett says HUSKY C hasn’t been updated to reflect the reality of financial changes.
“Every other HUSKY — A, B and D — all of those incomes and assets have [changed] except for HUSKY D have been updated and increased,” Hackett said. “Except for HUSKY C.”
“More people each and every year get kicked off because the HUSKY C income limit never goes up,” she said.
But that might change this legislative session. A proposed bill would change the asset eligibility from $1,600 to $3,000 for an unmarried person, and $2,400 to $5,000 for married couples.
Sheldon Toubman is an attorney at Disability Rights Connecticut. Toubman says they have been sending letters to state legislators as well as testifying in support of these changes.
“We have been told that, while there is enough money available overall to cover this and end the discrimination, the problem is the arbitrary spending cap, which of course both the legislative leaders and a broad group of advocates are seeking to get around,” Toubman said.
Toubman believes the changes could cost the state roughly $45 million.
More than 93,000 Connecticut residents are on HUSKY C, according to state data from 2022. “In general, the Medicaid program disproportionately provides essential healthcare to minority folks, Black and brown people,” Toubman said. “Expanding the income limit from between 97% to 138% poverty limit will disproportionately benefit Black and brown people and help address health disparities.”