Testimony on H.B. 7407: AAC Medicaid Expenditures

Appropriations Committee

April 5, 2019

Submitted By: Stephen Wanczyk-Karp, LMSW

On behalf of the National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter representing over 2,500 members, we offer these comments on Medicaid and the importance of maintaining sufficient funding.

Connecticut has one of the most successful Medicaid programs in the nation. Only about 3.5% of Medicaid dollars go toward administrative costs. The remainder goes directly to health care expenditures. This is far below the administrative costs of private insurers. In fact, the most recent per member per month costs for Medicaid for State Fiscal Year 2018 decreased by 1.9% compared to the previous year. Comparing SFY 2018 to SFY 2014, the per member per month cost has decreased by 8.1% over the four-year period. This is no small accomplishment, however the savings due to a well-run program are only part of the dollar value to our current program.

For those on Medicaid it is a life saver, in many cases literally, and a means to allow many recipients to be a more productive resident. There are recipients who would not be able to work if it were not for the medical care and prescription coverage received under Medicaid. These are individuals who, while in low paying jobs, are contributing to the state’s economy. A reduction in Medicaid funding will assuredly force some of these recipients to lose their work due to health conditions that they cannot afford to treat. It would also mean individuals and families having to spend more of their limited income on health care, leaving less for housing, food, transportation and all other costs of daily living.

We also know that HUSKY parents are much more likely to receive preventative care and acute care for themselves and their children. Studies have shown that when the parents do not have insurance coverage the children are less likely to receive medical care even if the children are covered by a medical insurance plan. Any cuts to HUSKY parents are essentially a reduction in medical care for the entire family.

Behavioral health coverage under Medicaid is very effective, covering a wide range of services that are necessary when dealing with the social determinants that impact on one’s health. Children in particular receive better care with Medicaid coverage than many children who are under private insurance plans. With 20% of children having the need for behavioral health at some point in their childhood, Medicaid is keeping covered children healthier and provides critical treatment that often is the difference from a child succeeding or failing in school, due to their behavioral issues.

As the Appropriations Committee crafts the next state budget, we urge the Committee to protect the Medicaid program. We do not need a study to tell us what we already know, that the CT Medicaid program is a cost effective and health care effective plan.

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