Connecticut – On Thursday, March 2nd, the Connecticut General Assembly’s Human Services Committee voted to pass House Bill 6616, to expand HUSKY to those otherwise eligible, regardless of immigration status, up to age 18. The committee vote comes just over two weeks after the bill received overwhelming support during a 12-hour public hearing in which over 700 people testified in support of expanding HUSKY to undocumented immigrants. While this is great news for undocumented youth who are now one step closer to receiving the healthcare coverage they need, the amended bill falls short of the original proposal to expand HUSKY to age 26.
“We are thankful to the co-chairs and members of the Human Services Committee who were instrumental in ensuring HUSKY expansion up to age 18 moved out of committee,” said Luis Luna, HUSKY for Immigrants Coalition Manager. “This vote is a confirmation of what we know and echoes what the co-chairs stated during the debate – that this program is working and improving the daily lives of those who are able to access it. Currently, income-eligible undocumented children 12 and under and postpartum individuals are able to access HUSKY and the program has been a success with service providers. This vote shows that our legislators are listening to overwhelming support behind this issue as 84 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of Black voters, and 76 percent of Latinx voters support expanding HUSKY to all immigrants regardless of age. But the fact is healthcare needs don’t end after age 18. The bill’s passage out of the Human Services committee is another important step in our march towards health equity in our state. We look forward to continuing to work with legislators to ensure our immigrant communities, no matter their age can access healthcare.”
“I’m an undocumented mother with 3 kids, two are 14 years old and one is 20 years old. As an undocumented family, it is very difficult for us to survive in this country because we do not qualify for health insurance due to our status. I’m happy that the Human Services Committee voted HB 6616 out of the committee to expand HUSKY access to those under 18. I know the importance of kids and teenagers having access to health care. One of my 14-year-olds has thyroid problems which become inflamed and painful, preventing him from eating or talking. I’ve had to take him to the emergency room for the pain because we cannot afford to see the specialist we were referred to. With the passage of HB 6616, my 14-year-old would be able to access the care he needs. But I also have a 20-year-old daughter who, unlike my 14-year-olds, cannot access healthcare in the school-based health center. She needs access to health care too as she suffers from anemia and irregular menstrual bleeding to the point of going to the hospital twice because we cannot afford to see the specialists. That’s why I need Connecticut legislators to support HB 6616 so that kids up to 18 can have access to care, but also keep fighting to expand the age so that my 20 years, myself, and my husband can also access healthcare.” said Olga Gutierrez a Bridgeport resident and member of Make The Road CT’s fightback committee.
“My interfaith colleagues and I have heard from thousands of our members that access to healthcare is a crucial concern for their families and neighborhoods, especially when it comes to mental health,” said Rev. Matthew Hogue-Smith, Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance, who represent 49 congregations in Greater Hartford. “Connecticut must take the necessary steps to ensure everyone, regardless of age or immigrant status, has access to quality, affordable mental healthcare. This committee vote means that thousands of undocumented adolescents are one step closer to having the health coverage they need and will help address the mental health crisis among our youth. But what happens when they turn 18 and that coverage is no longer available? Age 18 to 26 is a critical time for the first breaks in diagnosis for Bipolar and Schizophrenia and the length of time from the first break to wrap-around care helps determine the prognosis by the age of 26. The absence of insurance makes affording mental health care nearly impossible. Expanding HUSKY for all, regardless of immigration status, is not just morally right but also in the best interest of everyone living in our state. We can’t have healthy communities unless everyone has access to quality, affordable care.”
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