HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut lawmakers are expected to push ahead this week with plans to restore funding for a program that helps about 140,000 seniors pay for Medicare expenses, despite a last-minute decision by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to further delay the planned eligibility cuts.
Democratic House and Senate staff said lawmakers appreciate Malloy’s actions, but confirmed the General Assembly will vote Friday on a proposal to restore the $54 million. Lawmakers had originally cut the funding from the new, two-year, bipartisan $41.3 billion state budget — a move that prompted calls to the Department of Social Services and legislative offices from concerned senior citizens and people with disabilities.
“We want to provide peace of mind to the seniors enrolled in the program,” said Adam Joseph, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats.
Malloy, a Democrat, has urged the General Assembly to address the growing deficit in the current fiscal year budget, which is now estimated to be $224 million, fearing the Medicare program fix will worsen the problem.
“I would hope we could all agree that doing anything that balloons future deficits would be fiscally irresponsible, to say the least,” Malloy said in a letter sent Wednesday to Democratic and Republican legislative leaders.
DSS announced in early December it was delaying the planned eligibility changes in the Medicare Savings Program, which is funded with Medicaid money. The changes would likely help to save money by making it more difficult for residents to get assistance with their Medicare expenses.
Malloy said he directed the agency to further delay the changes until July 1, “ensuring that none of your constituents will have their benefits impacted during the current fiscal year, or during the upcoming legislative session.”
Malloy suggested that lawmakers use that time to “explore sustainable changes” to the program.
Legislative leaders have not yet released details on how they plan to come up with $54 million. They have said the money will come from various cuts and savings from certain budget line items, including state employee overtime.
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