CT Medicaid expansion launched for children of any immigration status – Identidad Latina Multimedia

For Gabriela, the recent expansion of the state’s Medicaid program for children under 12, regardless of immigration status, means that her 10-year-old son can now connect with a pediatrician and won’t have to worry about billing issues as often.

Gabriela, whose family moved to Hartford from Honduras, does not have permanent legal status and three of her children cannot access regular health care because they do not have insurance. With the expansion, her 10-year-old son is now eligible for coverage.

“We go to community clinics, but it’s not really enough, because there’s still a concern that if my son has a fever or discomfort of any kind, even if they give you a discounted rate, you still have to come with money,” she said. “And that’s not always possible.”

She worries about medical bills from hospital visits and the lack of regular access to health care for her children.

“We can’t just take our children to the doctor when necessary,” she said. “I have to figure it out. We make teas, we make home remedies, we use medicines [de venta libre] to lower the temperature. But I don’t feel as safe as if I could go to the doctor.”

In 2021, lawmakers approved a Medicaid expansion, known as HUSKY in Connecticut, for children under the age of 8, regardless of immigration status. Last year, they expanded eligibility to children 12 and younger, as long as their families meet the income limits that qualify for Medicaid.

Children from households earning up to 201% of the federal poverty level qualify (for a family of four, that’s $55,778). Children from households earning between 201% and 325% of the federal poverty level also qualify, but are subject to an asset test.

The expansion went into effect on January 1. Children under the age of 12 who enroll in the HUSKY program can keep the benefit until age 19. Children age 12 and older without legal permanent status at the time of enrollment are not eligible.

The State expects about 5,500 residents to enroll in the expanded program in the first year.

“The fact that this could be included in the budget shows the power our community has,” Carolina Bortolleto, a volunteer with the HUSKY for Immigrants Coalition and co-founder of Connecticut Students for a Dream, said in May when the expansion was approved. “And it shows that our legislators know that this was the right thing to do.”

Residents are encouraged to call Access Health CT, the state’s insurance exchange, at 855-805-4325 to enroll. They can also request that a paper application be mailed to them. Access Health has bilingual staff available.

Residents may also visit any of the Department of Social Services offices and apply in person. You can find a list of locations here.

The State is in the process of updating its online application system and hopes to have an online enrollment option in the future.

To enroll, the state requires the child’s name, date of birth, address, and family household income (as well as frequency and source of income).

“We absolutely never share any information with US Citizenship and Immigration Services,” said Kristin Dowty, program administration manager for the state Department of Social Services. Coverage lasts for one year and families can re-enroll at the end of that year.

As advocates look ahead to the legislative session that began last week and runs through June, they are calling for another expansion of HUKSY that would include all residents, regardless of age and immigration status. Lawmakers have signaled that they are open to debating the idea.

Jenna Carlesso (CT Mirror)

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