Christine Stuart file photo

The legislature’s Human Services Committee told the Malloy administration Thursday that it wasn’t going to give up its right to vote on changes to the state’s Medicaid program.

The committee voted 12-5 on new language that would make sure it retains its power to vote on Medicaid waivers.


Rep. Cathy Abercrombie, D-Meriden, said being able to approve the waivers was something that was very important to lawmakers.

Under a law approved with a veto override in 2007, the Human Services and Appropriations Committee retained the authority to approve or reject changes to the state’s Medicaid program. The Malloy administration proposed a bill that would have taken away that power, but members of the Human Services Committee deleted that language Thursday before sending the bill to the Senate.

Waivers to the Medicaid program can be used to expand services or to cut services and to restructure services that impact Connecticut residents.

The only time in recent memory that lawmakers voted to block a Medicaid waiver was in December 2015 when it voted against plans to outsource case management work for a brain injury program.

Malloy administration Budget Director Ben Barnes told the committee last month that eliminating the legislature’s participation in the waiver process would enable the Department of Social Services to redirect staff time and resources to providing services to the public.

Another part of the legislation the Human Services Committee approved Thursday, increases the amount of money the state of Connecticut will pay for the burial of indigent individuals.

Rep. Jay Case, R-Winchester, said the bill rolls back the amount of money the state is willing to pay to what it was 15 years ago.

At those rates, “funeral homes can’t do it,” Case said.

“I really think we’re going to be overloading the Medical Examiner’s office because of the bodies that are going to be rejected by the local funeral homes,” Case said. “They just can not afford to do it.”

Case said the state has to give people a proper burial.

The committee did increase the burial benefit from $1,000 to $1,200.

“In these difficult times . . . I’m going to side with the people that are living,” Abercrombie said. “No disrespect but in these difficult times we have to make difficult decisions.”