Testimony on S.B. 956: An Act Providing Medical Assistance to Certain Individuals Regardless of Immigration Status

Human Services Committee

March 11, 2021

Submitted By: Christina Cowan, NASW/CT Intern, MSW Student – Quinnipiac University

The National Association of Social Workers, Connecticut Chapter (NASW/CT), representing over 2,300 members, supports S.B. 956 to include medical assistance under the Medicaid program to needy pregnant women regardless of immigration status and children who are eligible for HUSKY B benefits regardless of immigration status. However, we present the following modifications: include low-income parents and children under HUSKY A regardless of immigration status and low-income elderly and disabled individuals under HUSKY C regardless of immigration status. S.B. 956 should cover all Connecticut residents that qualify for HUSKY and Medicaid regardless of immigration status. These modifications would make this bill inclusive and much more impactful.

Connecticut immigrants continue to be left out of eligibility for health coverage through Connecticut’s HUSKY program. The fact is that the undocumented community is blocked from accessing health coverage (and often healthcare itself) in CT. They cannot apply to AccessHealth CT’s health plans, are not eligible for HUSKY, and private insurance companies are either too expensive or outright reject applications due to lack of social security numbers.  It is estimated that uninsured rates for foreign born, non-citizens (legal permanent residents) are over 30% and for the undocumented population it is over 50%. However, Connecticut immigrants contribute about 1.8 billion dollars in state and local taxes each year, which helps fund our HUSKY program. Yet they are not able to benefit from a program they are required to put money in to even if they meet the eligibilities? This is unfair and an economic issue as they deserve an equal and fair opportunity to access the programs that they fund.

This bill is especially important as it improves the lives and health care of vulnerable people – pregnant women and children. This is also why it is so important that children under HUSKY A are included as well as low-income elderly and disabled individuals as they are all vulnerable. Health care is a human right, so no person, regardless of immigration status, should be denied or forced to pay costly treatment when they are eligible for our HUSKY program.

By passing this bill, Connecticut can save money through preventative care, which will reduce uncompensated care costs that the state and residents have to cover already. Connecticut residents regardless of immigration status should be able to receive medical assistance that they are eligible for and are already putting money in to just like all other residents. NASW/CT supports S.B. 956 with modifications to make the bill inclusive of all HUSKY program offerings so no Connecticut immigrant continues to be left out.

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