Budget hurts vulnerable senior and disabled residents

I am writing to express my concern for 70,000-plus low income Connecticut senior and disabled residents who are having their health insurance benefits drastically cut as a result of the state budget that was recently passed. The cuts made to the Medicare Savings Plan will devastate our low-income senior and disabled population and force them to decide between paying their taxes, buying their medications, or seeking medical and mental health treatment.

Previously, persons on the Medicare Savings Program who were single could make up to $2,120 a month and a married couple $2,854 a month. They could be eligible to receive Medicaid as a supplement to Medicare, keep the Part B Social Security premium, as well as receive reduced premiums and co-pays for prescriptions. The Medicare Savings program was a life saver for many low-income senior and disabled residents.

Now, the new state budget drastically cuts the income limits to $1,005 for a single person and to $1,374 for a couple! This extreme, reckless reduction of eligibility will put thousands of seniors and disabled persons in immediate danger. They will no longer have affordable, adequate insurance and will see a reduction in their Social Security income.

It is appalling that our legislators would hurt our neediest of residents. How can they expect people who worked hard their entire adult lives, and contributed faithfully to society, to be able to afford insurance, medication, housing, heat, food, clothing, and all the other necessities of life on such low income? Not to mention pay their taxes. These people deserve to feel that they will be medically taken care of.

I am a member of the National Association of Social Workers CT Chapter, Committee on Aging and we call upon our legislators to take a look at their mistake and make these vulnerable senior and disabled residents whole again. For a population that is already suffering, it is inconceivable that they would be penalized even further.

Please, state legislators, this is not people taking advantage or defrauding the system. They are your mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, neighbors and friends. And they are scared! 

Michael Marshall is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Social Workers – CT Chapter; a member of the National Association of Social Workers CT Chapter - Committee on Aging; Windham Task Force to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect; and a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). He lives in Waterford.

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