With the state running a close to $914 million deficit this year and without a budget in place for the next two years, Gov. M. Jodi Rell has started using her executive authority to start scaling back programs to some of Connecticut’s neediest residents.
Starting today, low-income seniors and disabled individuals enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare will have to pick up the cost of any new prescription drugs, not covered by the Medicare Part D program.
Prescriptions that were previously covered will continue to be covered, however, “It’s going to cause a great deal of confusion at best,” Judy Stein, executive director for the Center for Medicare Advocacy, said Monday. “At worst, it means people will be going without their medication.”
“This action is required to avoid additional state spending, and its continuation is dependent upon the outcome of current budget negotiations,” Claudette Beaulieu, the deputy commissioner for the Department of Social Services wrote in a May 28 letter to lawmakers. “The change will be in effect until the remainder of this state fiscal year or until a new budget is passed, if such passage is after the end of the fiscal year. Depending on final budget, the new policy may or may not be changed.”
The end of the fiscal year is June 30, so these changes may just be for one month if lawmakers and Rell decide to keep the program during budget negotiations.
For many the system had been so seamless that they may not even know the state had been covering up the cost according to those familiar with the program.
Stein said the Part D wrap around initially went into effect because the state saw the dilemma faced by the population.
“It seems like all we’re looking for is cuts from those who can least afford it,” Stein said.
Another program which has been scaled back while the state negotiates a budget is the “Care 4 Kids” program, which helps low-income families get money for childcare services, so they can go to work.
The program has not ended, but if you’re new to the program your name will be added to a waiting list if you have not received Temporary Family Assistance in the past.
Also those whose income was at or below 50 percent of the state median income level on May 12, will no longer receive assistance if they make $39,404 a year as a family of three.
“Care 4 Kids” currently serves 14,000 families and 21,000 children,” according to the Department of Social Services. “These families and children will continue to receive child care assistance as long as they continue to meet the eligibility requirements of the program.”
These are just a few of the cuts which may or may not be in the budget for the next two fiscal years. But they seem to foreshadow cuts lawmakers and Rell are considering as they craft the budget.
Late last week Rell proposed about $300 million more in further cuts to social services and nursing homes when she proposed an additional $1.3 billion in spending cuts.