October 3, 2018

Report: 21,000 more without health insurance in CT

HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo

An additional 21,000 Connecticut residents were without health insurance coverage in 2017 vs. 2016 as a result of state cuts to Medicaid for children and families, a new report says.

The report by child advocacy group Connecticut Voices for Children, drawing on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community survey, said 10,000 parents were pushed off insurance coverage for low-income adults, known as Husky A, in 2016 after the legislature lowered income eligibility limits for the program in 2015. The result was more uninsured residents in 2017.

Connecticut's uninsured rate rose 0.6 percentage points in 2017 to 5.5 percent compared to the national insured rate of 8.7 percent, which was flat over the year, according to the report.

A drop in adult access to health insurance coverage, research says, makes it less likely the children of those adults will remain insured despite their eligibility, said Karen Siegel, a health policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children.

The report suggests that a drop in insurance coverage statewide has curbed Connecticut's economic outlook for families.

The nonprofit said median household income remained flat from 2016 to 2017 and poverty rates did not "decline significantly" over the period compared to the nation. Plus, black and Latino residents in Connecticut are still twice and three times as likely to experience poverty, respectively.

Connecticut's poverty rate only slightly improved to 9.6 percent in 2017 compared to the nation's poverty rate that year of 13.4 percent, which improved by more than a half percent.

To encourage economic growth and increase health coverage in the state, Connecticut Voices urged state lawmakers to pass a set of policies for which the nonprofit has advocated repeatedly.

That includes an increase to the minimum wage, from $10.10 to $15 an hour, by 2020. The measure would increase income for over 524,000 residents, it said.

The report also recommends restoring the state's earned income tax credit to the federal level at 30 percent, which would give refundable tax credits to over 20,000 low and moderate income households earning less than $20,000 a year.

Connecticut Voices for Children is also calling for implementing expanded paid family leave and protecting the state's Medicaid program, among other actions.

"Misguided policy decisions are to blame for the increasing number of Connecticut residents without health insurance," the report says. "Our success as a state depends on ensuring economic opportunity for everyone."

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Read the report here

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