MERIDEN, CT— No one was able to say exactly how much the Community Health Center of Meriden would lose if the U.S. Senate passes the latest version of its healthcare bill, but there’s no doubt it would have an impact.
The Meriden center, which is one of 14 Federally Qualified Health Centers in Connecticut, serves about 15,000 residents a year and about 80 percent are on Medicaid.
Amy Taylor, vice president of the Community Health Center, Inc.’s western region, said federally qualified health centers save money. She said when Medicaid patients receive care at a federally qualified health center “we save 25 percent of cost for each patient and they get better ambulatory care rates, so their outcomes are better.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal took a tour of the center on Friday.
“The changes that they’ve made all along the way through this secretive process behind closed doors has left the program still disastrous for Connecticut,” Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal said he would continue to fight the legislation “because if anything it’s worse than what we’ve seen before.”
The latest version of the Senate bill was unveiled Thursday.
Those changes were made to satisfy the more conservative wing of the Republican Party and offered little if any sweeteners for moderates, who are more concerned about the cuts to Medicaid.
The bill still cuts Medicaid funding by more than 30 percent, eliminates the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of that program and replaces Obamacare’s tax credit subsidies with smaller ones.
“The Senate plan wants to slash one out of every four dollars going into Medicaid,” Blumenthal said. “In other words, decimate the program.”
Around 770,000 Connecticut residents are on Medicaid. About 220,000 were added to the Medicaid rolls through the expansion, which allowed those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to access the program.
According to state officials, Connecticut could see as much as $2.9 billion in annual costs added to the state at full implementation in 2026. The anticipated funding reduction by 2026 in the proposed bill is equivalent to 80,000 to 230,000 fewer Connecticut residents being served under Medicaid.
The Senate can only afford to lose two of its 52 Republican senators and already Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine said they’d vote against bringing the bill to the floor. That means just one more Republican Senator is all it will take to kill the effort.
Blumenthal said the latest version is like putting “eyeliner on a pig. It would be funny if it wasn’t so deadly serious.”