Happy birthday, Medicaid, and CT’s HUSKY

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Husky health logoWhen you are a child, a 50-year-old seems over the hill.  The good news about Medicaid turning 50 this summer is that this 50-year-old looks stronger than ever.

Medicaid (also known as HUSKY in Connecticut) provides health care coverage for over 300,000 children in our state – covering almost one in four children.  These children are in families earning below 200 percent of the federal poverty line or $40,250 for a family of three, and live in every city and town in the Nutmeg State.  There are probably 50 things to mention about how Medicaid has improved the lives of so many children in this state, but space only allows for a few:

Medicaid has helped drive down the uninsured rate for children to just above 4 percent.  Connecticut is in the top ten of states with the lowest uninsured rates for children. Notably, the federal government reimburses Connecticut between 50 and 88 cents on the dollar for children on HUSKY.

HUSKY provides comprehensive health services for children – from simple immunizations, regular physicals, and dental checkups to intensive behavioral health services, and specialized treatments for children with complex physical and/or mental health needs.   Access to timely and affordable health care means children are less likely to miss school for treatable health conditions, such as asthma or tooth pain.  We have the research: Medicaid delivers  healthier teens, with lower rates of eating disorders, drinking problems and early death.

Historically health coverage for children has been a bi-partisan issue among state and national lawmakers.  Working to improve our children’s access to health care services connects everyone, without regard for party lines or neighborhood boundaries. Everyone agrees that children deserve access to quality health care.

Recent groundbreaking research also makes the case that these children will be healthier and more productive citizens at age 50 – and beyond.   Medicaid coverage for our youngest children (under age 6) correlates to better health outcomes in adulthood (ages 25-54).   Due to higher earnings, their increased tax payments alone returned 56 cents on the dollar by the time the children reached 60, according to researchers from the Department of the Treasury and Yale University.

Our kids and our state have a lot to celebrate:  a state-federal health coverage program that helps needy youngsters, promotes familial economic stability, and reduces industry costs.  As citizens, we can all celebrate 50 years of a program that binds us together, channels our shared civic responsibility, and invests in our state’s most valuable and precious resource, our children.

Sharon D. Langer, MEd, JD is Advocacy Director for Connecticut Voices for Children (www.ctvoices.org).

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