Avoiding Past Mistakes: HUSKY B Premiums Would Leave Thousands of Children Uninsured

Back • Publication Date: April 13th, 2010

Authors: Mary Alice Lee, Ph.D., Michael Sullivan, & Sharon Langer, M.Ed., JD

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HUSKY B, Connecticut’s Children Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for children under 19, provides coverage for about 16,000 uninsured children. Governor Rell has proposed imposing new and increased premiums on children in HUSKY B. In addition, the FY 10 deficit mitigation plan passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor on April 14, 2010 increases co-pays for most health services, including office visits and prescription medications, for all of the 16,000 children in HUSKY B.

We know from past experience in Connecticut that thousands of children are likely to lose coverage if new or increased premiums are imposed on children in families in HUSKY B. Twice in the past 10 years, these premiums have been imposed or increased. When legislators and the Governor realized that several thousand children were scheduled to lose coverage because their families could not afford the premiums, they repealed the requirement twice.

Since the federal government reimburses the state for two-thirds of the cost of HUSKY B, Connecticut must make $3 in cuts to save $1 in state funding. In addition, if the federal government interprets the national health reform law to prohibit new or increased premiums for HUSKY B (CHIP), as it did for Medicaid under the Recovery Act, Connecticut will lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal matching funds for the entire Medicaid program.

The HUSKY B co-pays will be raised to the levels charged in the state employee health plans. Some families may forgo needed care for their children or seek emergency care when the conditions worsen if they cannot afford the additional co-payments.