At a press conference Wednesday Gov. M. Jodi Rell said the state should not look to expand the HUSKY B program, a federally funded insurance program for low-income individuals, because President George W. Bush’s budget included deep cuts to the program.
“We don’t want to put more individuals on this type of plan,” if the dollars aren’t going to be there, Rell said.
Connecticut’s Congressional delegation feels differently. The mostly Democratic delegation said its caucus is determined to find the $13 to $15 billion needed to fund the program over the next five years. Bush has proposed a $5 billion increase.
Congressman Joe Courtney, D-2, said Monday this week that funding the program was a priority for the delegation.
State Rep. Peggy Sayers, D-Windsor, said Thursday that if Rell tries to veto the increases to the program the Democrat-controlled legislature would use its veto proof majority to get it passed.
She said Speaker James Amann, D-New Milford, is determined to pass HB 6158 that says any child who resides in a household with a family income which exceeds 185 percent of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 400 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for benefits under HUSKY B.
The image of Rell as advocate for uninsured families in the HUSKY program begins to fade further when you look at the press releases she sent out last month trying to claim responsibility for increases in enrollment.
On Feb. 12 her office sent out a press release which said “In September, we announced $1 million in new funding for community outreach and public information aimed at boosting HUSKY enrollment.” While the $1 million figure is accurate, Rell tries to make the connection to the increase in the enrollment when that’s not accurate. The outreach grants were released four days later on Feb. 16 according to another press release from Rell’s office.
The outreach and marketing money has been in the budget for at least six months. Rell could have released it at any time, but failed to do so.
Where did the money come from in the first place?
In response to a Connecticut Voices report in Sept. 2006 about the decline in HUSKY enrollment, Rell ordered the Department of Social Services to redirect about $1 million in savings from the declining Husky enrollment to expand marketing efforts.