Budget cuts will hurt Connecticut’s most vulnerable residents

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Last week, I, along with almost 50 other invitees, participated in a half-day Social Determinants of Health Summit that was jointly sponsored by Connecticut’s Commission on Health Equity and the Connecticut Multicultural Health Partnership.  I also presented a brief overview about health disparities at the summit.

The commission was created by the state legislature in 2008 to eliminate disparities in health status based on race, ethnicity, gender and linguistic ability, “thereby improving the quality of health for all of the state’s residents.” As a physician and an outside observer, I believe the commission’s mandate will be made even harder by the nature and types of cuts made by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

As someone who has testified and written frequently about funding decisions and service modifications and also as someone who is very familiar with health disparities in the state, I believe that the current rescissions are not only evidence of a disconnect between the state’s commitment to ending disparities and inequities in health and health outcomes, but they are also a departure from the state’s early commitment to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.

Gov. Malloy, if I may bring this to your urgent notice, the budget rescissions will have a detrimental impact on the most vulnerable and disenfranchised populations in Connecticut.

This state was one of the earliest states in the country to create a health-care exchange in response to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. While the cuts to Medicaid are egregious, other cuts are just as troubling.

Typically, we think of good health as the absence of mental or physical impairments. We often fail, however, to acknowledge the importance and impact of education, human services, transportation, housing, neighborhood conditions and environmental surroundings, crime and law enforcement, access to political authority, wholesome food and unbiased health care as major determinants of health, health outcomes and individual and group/community well-being and wellness.

The rescissions will impose a detrimental impact – both long- and short-term, direct and indirect – on every resident and business in the state. They will disproportionately affect the poor, the underserved and communities of color who are sizeable in the state’s emerging workforce. I am particularly concerned about the impact of these reductions on the welfare of the state’s children.

The fastest growing populations in Connecticut are Asians, Latinos/Hispanics and people of African lineage. Children in these population groups will soon make up nearly 50 percent of the school-age population in the state. Ill-informed funding decisions about their health and educational needs today will have negative impacts on the quality of the workforce, the quality of life in general for all state residnets today, and the cost of health care now, and certainly in the future.

I implore you, Gov. Malloy, please find other less health-impairing means to balance the budget!

I welcome your response, Gov. Malloy. I am ready to work with your staff and others to achieve these goals to address the critical needs of our friends, neighbors and members of Connecticut families.

Dr. Velandy Manohar is a charter member of the Connecticut Multicultural Health Partnership. A native of India, he has been a physician in the U.S. since 1967.

What do you think?

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