© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

CT expands HUSKY health program for undocumented children

Jeniece Roman
/
WSHU

Connecticut children ages 15 and under can now access the state’s HUSKY health program regardless of their documented status.

Advocates and state lawmakers met on Monday at Fair Haven Community Health Center to announce the expansion of the state's health program. HUSKY is the state’s Medicaid program for children and adults. The expansion of the law goes into effect this month.

The previous state law limited HUSKY enrollment for undocumented children up to age 12. Now, coverage has been extended to children 15 and under. This means children who were 12 years old last year and would have aged out of the program can continue to have health care coverage.

Gov. Ned Lamont at the Fair Haven Community Health Center to announce the expansion of the state's HUSKY health program.
Jeniece Roman
/
WSHU
Gov. Ned Lamont at the Fair Haven Community Health Center to announce the expansion of the state's HUSKY health program.

Gov. Ned Lamont said the expansion is funded under the 24-25 state b,udget. The General Assembly approved the bill and Lamont signed it into law in 2023. Lamont said the expansion is one of several ways that state leaders want to expand coverage for all. He said the next goal would be to extend the program to children up to the age of 18, regardless of documented status.

“If you’re not healthy, if you’re not taken care of, if you don’t get a vaccine, if you’re not able to be tested, that puts you at risk and that puts our greater Connecticut family at risk and we all look out for each other,” Lamont said.

According to Peter Hadler, the deputy commissioner at the state Department of Social Services, the state allocated approximately $13 million in the 2023 calendar year for the program. However, Hadler said that now there is also federal reimbursement available for prenatal care funding.

“That’s good for taxpayers here because that funding was available, and we were picking up the tab because of all of the complications that come when women don’t have access to prenatal care,” Hadler said.

Luis Luna, coalition manager for HUSKY 4 Immigrants.
Jeniece Roman
/
WSHU
Luis Luna, coalition manager for HUSKY 4 Immigrants.

Luis Luna, the manager for the HUSKY 4 Immigrants coalition, said that approximately 60% of undocumented immigrants in the United States don’t have access to health care. He said the passage of the law is an accomplishment that the group celebrates, knowing that their families will receive healthcare.

Luna said lack of health care can impact residents' mental health and financial well-being.

“What happens when folks don’t have access to healthcare? Their mental health suffers, their physical health, as well as their financial health. So it is all tied together,” Luna said.

As of April this year, Luna said close to 12,000 children and 5,000 pregnant people have signed up for the program. He said that number includes residents seeking postpartum care. Luna said the group will continue to work with legislators to move the program forward.

“We’re all here because we all care very, very deeply about access to healthcare for all. And we also firmly believe that health care is a human right,” Luna said.

Jeniece Roman is a reporter with WSHU, who is interested in writing about Indigenous communities in southern New England and Long Island, New York.