Image of health insurance concept. (Designer 491 via Shutterstock)
(Designer 491 via Shutterstock) Credit: Designer 491 / Shutterstock

Advocates fighting for health insurance coverage for immigrants under the age of 18 aren’t giving up. 

Legislation that would have covered Connecticut residents between the ages of 8 and 18 failed to make it out of the Human Services Committee. The vote came exactly a week after a 12 hour hearing where more than 360 people offered their support for the bill.

One of those was Patricia Alvarenga. 

Alvarenga said she had to have an emergency appendectomy two years ago and still has a $16,000 bill. 

“If I have any pain I can’t go to the doctor, because how are we going to pay such a huge amount? Right now they told me that I have kidney stones and I have not been able to go to the doctor because I don’t have insurance and that is the first thing they ask for,” Alvarenga said. 

This legislation wouldn’t help her, but it would help her 12 year old son who has no health insurance. 

The Connecticut Hospital Association said they support the legislation. 

“As a result of this lack of coverage, many immigrants and their dependents have a great deal of difficulty accessing care. As is the case with other uninsured individuals, they may delay care or forego care entirely until their condition requires emergency department visits or hospitalizations. These services, which are avoidable if care is provided earlier, may ultimately be covered by Medicaid at significant taxpayer expense,” the Connecticut Hospital Association said in written testimony. 

Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration does not support the legislation. 

Department of Social Services Commissioner Deidre Gifford testified that the state does not support the bill because it would result in additional annual costs of at least $10.2 million annually. That’s because the federal government would not reimburse the state for some of the costs. 

“The Department notes that there is not detailed information about this population’s health condition and willingness to access benefits and, as a result, there is some uncertainty in these financial projections. The Department further notes that this cost estimate does not include system implementation and other related administrative costs,” Gifford said in written testimony.

The failure of the committee to pass the legislation  means immigrant children will age-out of being eligible for healthcare when they turn 9 years old.

Last year, the legislature passed a bill that covers pregnant immigrants and children under the age of 9. This year advocates were hoping to expand coverage. 

But advocates are not giving up hope. 

They are pushing for the legislation to become part of the budget and will be holding a call to action at noon today.