Matt Lesser

State Senator

Matt Lesser

Deputy Majority Leader

Your Independent Voice

June 9, 2021

State Senator Matt Lesser Leads Passage Of Major Health Care Reform Bill

Today, state Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown), Chair of the Insurance & Real Estate Committee, led debate on a major health care reform bill. The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support, after clearing the House earlier in the day.

House Bill 6687, ‘An Act Concerning Medical Assistance For Children And Adults Without Health Care Coverage,’ will guarantee prenatal coverage for low and moderate women in Connecticut, health insurance coverage for children 8 years and younger and one year of post-natal coverage regardless of immigration status.

The bill now heads to Governor Lamont, who is expected to sign it.

“It’s not every day that you get to offer prenatal coverage to every woman in Connecticut,” said Sen. Lesser. “Expanding access to health care to pregnant women and young children, regardless of immigration status, is obviously the right thing to do – but it’s also fiscally responsible. It relieves pressure on our hospitals, allows people to get the care they need and brings in federal funding. This is landmark legislation that will make a difference in the lives of thousands of Connecticut residents.”

In addition to HB 6687, the state budget expected to pass Wednesday expands health care coverage for low and moderate income citizens and permanent residents, a measure championed by Lesser. HUSKY eligibility is expanded through an innovative partnership between Medicaid and AccessHealth, the state’s Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Exchange.

HB 6687 requires the Department of Social Services (DSS) to expand eligibility for medical assistance to groups of people regardless of their immigration status. It extends health care coverage to children under age 9 regardless of immigration status, effective January 1, 2023.

Additionally, this bill will require the DSS to develop plans to phase in medical assistance income-eligible children ages 9 to 18, regardless of immigration status. Currently, six states in the U.S., including neighboring states New York and Massachusetts, provide this crucial health care coverage to all children regardless of immigration status. Just this year, Illinois decided to cover adults 65 and older, regardless of immigration status. With public insurance. California covers all immigrants up to age 26 in their Medicaid program.

Currently undocumented immigrants are prevented from receiving coverage under Medicaid and Medicare, and are also unable to purchase health insurance from Access Health CT’s exchange. This means that many immigrant survivors are unable to access healthcare because their undocumented status makes them ineligible. This is true for thousands of undocumented immigrant families in Connecticut who are blocked from obtaining healthcare coverage under these state-funded programs. Providing medical assistance to undocumented immigrants means not only safeguarding their individual wellbeing, but potentially that of the community as a whole.

HB 6687 also provides medical assistance for prenatal and postpartum care to women for 12 months after they have given birth, regardless of their immigration status. This is a policy that many states already implement, including states that are predominately Republican, like Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Prenatal care is important for women to help keep their babies healthy. Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care. Doctors can spot health problems early when they see mothers regularly. This allows doctors to treat them early. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others.

Current policy in Connecticut requires an emergency room to treat someone if their life is in danger, regardless of immigration status.