and Board Leaders
Health care is personal. Real people’s lives are on the line. That’s what policy makers and others whose decisions play out in our everyday lives need to be constantly reminded of. That was our challenge last year. Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut worked tirelessly to bring Connecticut residents to the forefront and we’re proud to say we made an impact.
Through grants awarded at the end of 2016 and continuing into 2017, our partners collected almost 300 stories from their clients, members, and volunteers. “Connecticut Lives on the Line” became a rallying call, attracting over 750 selfies that were strung on clotheslines and used as a visual reminder to state and federal policymakers of whom they needed to keep front and center in their advocacy and decision-making.
The stories of our fellow Connecticut residents speak volumes about how policy plays out in people’s lives; and frankly, warm our hearts, at times bring us to tears, and propel us to keep our advocacy going. Here are a couple:
Affording medication became difficult for Ivonne S. when she didn’t have health insurance while transitioning to a new job. She cut her pills in half to make them last until her new insurance kicked in, suffering from the effects of improper dosage for her condition.
Anna P. has Lupus. Self-employed and unable to afford the premiums, Anna canceled her health insurance. She will have to pay out of pocket for the doctor visits, treatment, and medication that help her manage her illness. It is not easy, but this is the only option for Anna, currently.
A lifelong chronic condition, not having insurance when you need it most, unable to afford needed medications—people are suffering. That is why Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut fights – always has and always will – for everyone in Connecticut to have quality and affordable health care all their lives. We hope the pages of this report will inspire you to keep fighting with us until we win.
|Frances G. Padilla, President
Universal Health Care
Foundation of Connecticut
|Nancy Burton, Chair
Universal Health Care
Foundation of Connecticut
|Dan Livingston, Chair
Connecticut Health Advancement
Letter from the President and Board Leaders
The Whole is Stronger than the Sum of its Parts
A Watchful Eye and an Amplified Voice
Lives on the Line
Metrics / Grantees
Summary of Finances
Health care coverage data in this report comes from an Urban Institute study commissioned by the Connecticut Health Foundation.
The Whole is Stronger
than the Sum of its Parts
The ability to go to the doctor’s office when sick, receive treatment when needed and afford the medications to keep us healthy brings comfort and peace of mind to people in our community. Access to quality, affordable health care has far-reaching affects on anyone’s quality of life. Unfortunately, these basic human rights are not available to all people in Connecticut.
The Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut is working to change this. For almost 20 years, the Foundation has been working to ensure all Connecticut residents have access to affordable care when they need it.
With past accomplishments like the passage of Connecticut’s health care reform law, SustiNet, to the newly minted Protect Our Care CT campaign, the Foundation has been instrumental in bringing Connecticut closer to universal health care.
We couldn’t have done this without you.
“The Foundation embraces the role of being a catalyst in a larger social justice movement,” said Dan Livingston, board chair of CHART, the Foundation’s parent organization. Bringing organizations and individuals together has been key in past accomplishments and will be essential for future success.
In 2017, with the change in the Federal political climate and state budget issues, the Foundation saw collaborations being vital to moving the needle forward in the coming years.
“There are deep rooted anxieties about the future of health care and other threats to core values we hold as a community,” said William Ginsberg, President of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. “We can send a message that people can stand up and push back.”
Calling upon past partners and cultivating new alliances, work on defending health care gains and bringing transparency to pharmaceutical costs became a major focus of the Foundation in 2017.
“Our organizations are small and the state is small,” said Dr. Tekisha D. Everett, Executive Director of Health Equity Solutions, “Collaborating and being effective in those collaborations is important to ensure we are not stepping on others doing the same thing; we are being productive rather than working in silos.”
The Foundation is proud to be the catalyst that brought over 30 organizations and 500 individuals together to fight for affordable, accessible health care in Connecticut. Bringing these different voices together to work towards a common mission is critical to achieving universal health care in Connecticut.
“This partnership allows each of our organizations to function at its best,” said Tekisha. “The Foundation brings a sense of the health care side of things, specifically around health insurance, cost and quality, while Health Equity Solutions brings the lens of health equity to the work and change in those areas for people of color in the state.”
“We are proud to have a long association with the Foundation and be a partner in what it stands for,” said William.
We look forward to the continued work with current partners and building new relationships to fight with us to achieve a health system that provides universal access to quality, affordable health care and promotes health in Connecticut.
“We can only make fundamental change when we help to generate and leverage a fight for change among groups many times larger than we are,” said Dan, “We can only do that by broadening relationships we already have and by building new relationships.”
A Watchful Eye
and an Amplified Voice
In the first decade and a half of its existence, the Universal Health Care Foundation’s position was proactive, conducting and gathering research to inform and educate Connecticut legislators and residents and advocate to move our State closer to accessible, quality, affordable health care for all. But the shifting political landscape of 2016 and 2017 changed all of that.
“The 2016 elections were a game-changer for health care access and affordability,” said Frances Padilla, President of the Universal Health Care Foundation. “For the first time in a long time we sensed real threats to affordable health care and the gains in coverage that had been accomplished through the Affordable Care Act.”
Wasting no time, the Foundation convened a meeting in January 2017 and invited a wide range of organizations working on health care issues – direct service providers, advocacy and resistance groups, labor unions, other foundations and more.
“We realized we needed be very watchful of the directions pursued by Washington and the new administration both there and in Connecticut.
Everyone was very interested in working together to gain a shared understanding of what was happening,” said Padilla.
From that convening, Protect Our Care Connecticut was born.
With a reinvigorated focus on preserving and strengthening the gains made by the Affordable Care ACT (ACA) and defending Medicaid, Medicare and women’s health programs, Protect our Care set out to coordinate organizations and individuals committed to education around health care issues.
In most of 2017, the work was defensive as several attempts were made by Congress and President Donald Trump to repeal and weaken the ACA. The Foundation and its fellow members of Protect Our Care – some 30 organizations and 500 individuals – closely followed what was happening in Washington and took action to ensure that the voice of Connecticut residents would be heard.
“We need to give a human face to the issues,” said Dr. Stephen Smith, a physician with Community Health Center in New London and Foundation board member. “People are making decisions about putting food on the table or accessing health care. I had a patient recently who lost his leg to diabetes because he couldn’t afford his insulin. These are our neighbors.”
Although not perfect, the ACA reduced the number of uninsured in Connecticut by 45 percent, according to a study released in July 2017 by the Urban Institute.
Emmanuel of Hartford was able to purchase coverage through Access Health CT, the state’s official health insurance marketplace established to meet the requirements of the ACA. As a student pursuing a degree in manufacturing engineering, Emmanuel’s income is limited from his part-time job. He is grateful for the assistance he receives in paying for his coverage.
Although he’s young at age 27 and considers himself healthy, his insurance was a life-saver when he suffered a bowel obstruction last year that required major surgery and a 10-day stay in the hospital.
“I was shocked when I received the bill and saw that I only had to pay a few hundred dollars. Without the insurance, the surgery would have cost $40,000,” said Emmanuel.
Emmanuel recognizes that without access to affordable insurance coverage, his dreams of becoming an engineer could easily have been derailed by his medical needs. And, with warnings from his doctor that this could happen again in the future, Emmanuel hopes he can keep his coverage through the ACA.
There is no shortage of stories to illustrate the value of affordable, quality health care, and the devastating effects it can have on people, families and communities when access is limited.
The Foundation is driven to bring those stories to light, to elevate the concerns of consumers and educate policy-makers about what’s happening in our communities, what significant policy alternatives are worth considering and how to better protect Connecticut consumers.
“But we can’t do it alone,” said Padilla. “There are many ways in which people can participate and engage in this issue. You can provide support through donations, take part in our campaigns and action opportunities, or join Protect Our Care.”
“Our ultimate goal is to achieve the mission of affordable, quality health care for all. This is about making it happen, and we need everybody.”
people with employer-sponsored insurance now have zero-copay preventive care protection from catastrophic costs, and immediate access to health insurance if they lose job-based coverage.
Medicare beneficiaries receive increased coverage of preventive care and prescription drugs from the ACA. Roughly 1 in 6 people in CT are Medicare beneficiaries.
Lives on the Line
Imagine a clothesline, strung with hundreds of selfies surrounding the office of U.S. Senator Pat Toomey as the U.S. Senate considers an attempt to repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Each one of those photos represents someone whose life is on the line if the ACA is repealed.
The photos aren’t of his own constituents in Pennsylvania, but of hundreds of Connecticut residents who want him to know that his actions put their lives on the line.
Such was the scene last June, when a delegation of activists organized by the Protect Our Care CT Campaign headed to Toomey’s office to participate in a Lives on the Line action.
While the statistics are sometimes hard to nail down, the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center estimates that the ACA insured more than 160,000 previously uninsured residents in Connecticut, reducing the uninsured rate by about 45 percent.
“The passage of the Affordable Care Act at the federal level in 2010 was not the end all be all, but it did make some great strides forward in giving more people access to care,” said Lynne Ide, Universal Health Care Foundation’s director of Program and Policy.
The expansion of Medicaid eligibility and access to private options in the healthcare marketplace accounted for the largest portion of the increase in covered residents.
But 2017 brought significant changes to the political landscape across the country and here in our state.
“The huge strides forward were at risk under the new leadership in Washington DC. That, combined with severe state budget issues set the stage for the beginnings of unraveling the gains that were made in previous years,” said Lynne.
Due to cuts to the 2016-17 state budget, more than 11,000 parents and caregivers are facing the loss of Medicaid coverage in 2019.
At its peak enrollment in 2014, Medicaid covered nearly 700,000 Connecticut residents. People like Sarah of Hartford, whose third child spent 9 days in
the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) after her birth, undergoing several expensive tests. Sarah and her husband enrolled in Medicaid – called HUSKY in Connecticut – when they graduated with their masters degrees and couldn’t find employment. Now, they are insured through her husband’s job as a teacher, but their Medicaid coverage saved the family from financial ruin and possibly saved their daughter’s life.
“I learned about a woman whose son had an asthma attack in the middle of the night. She waited to get him medical attention until the doctor’s office opened in the morning because her deductible is $10,000 a year and she couldn’t afford to take him to the emergency room,” said Lynne.
The hundreds of selfies on the clothesline each represent another, equally dire story of possible devastation at the loss or reduction of health care coverage.
“It takes a toll on people’s mental health – deciding when to access care, waiting until it’s so bad you can’t avoid it. It costs more money in the long run and has adverse effects on overall health,” continued Lynne. “People are making decisions like this all the time.”
The good news is that the ACA ultimately wasn’t repealed, but cuts to Medicaid and reductions to the ACA continue to be a threat, one that the Foundation and its partners in the Protect Our Care CT Campaign will follow closely.
The goal moving forward is to train and mobilize activists around the state to raise the health care issue where they live. We cannot rely on the federal government to take innovative action to improve the health care system in the country. We need to craft and work for Connecticut-based solutions. In 2018, local activists will be key to injecting the issue of health care and innovative solutions to health care problems into electoral debates and election campaigns.
“We’ll help residents build their skills to talk to elected leaders and candidates about what’s important to them and what they want their elected leaders to do to protect them.”
residents would be uninsured without the ACA
of residents who were covered by the ACA in 2017 were in working families
Characteristics of state residents who have health insurance because of the ACA, 2017
Health care policy is complex, and the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut has the experts to engage effectively with policy makers. By bringing the voice of everyday people to the table, the Foundation is proud to have played a key role in these state policy victories:
Prescription Drug Prices
In 2017, the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut began a major advocacy effort to address skyrocketing prescription drug prices.
Advocating for more transparency in the pharmaceutical industry, the Foundation pushed for the passage of a senate bill that bans “gag clauses” in contracts between pharmacists and PBMs (pharmacy benefits managers), enabling pharmacists to share prescription drug price information with patients and let them know if a lower cost equivalent alternative is available. The bill also allows patients to pay the lower cost if their co-pay costs more than the actual price of the medication. With bipartisan support, this bill became law in July 2017.
The Foundation also partnered with Yale University’s Global Health Justice Partnership and the National Physicians Alliance to publish a white paper, Curbing Unfair Drug Prices: A Primer for States. Outlining ways state-level legislation can rein in prescription drug prices, this paper has proven useful to other states as they pursue prescription drug legislation.
Office of Health Strategy
Through 2017 legislation, Connecticut established the Office of Health Strategy (OHS), a coordinated approach to improving health access, quality and affordability. OHS brings together several health care planning and regulatory offices under one umbrella, centralizing responsibility for:
collecting and analyzing health data
conducting health system planning and reviewing Certificate of Need requests to add new facilities or purchase expensive equipment
implementing innovative payment and delivery models
For years, the Foundation has championed the need for planning, coordination, oversight and innovation to improve health care in Connecticut. We believe that the Office of Health Strategy helps to fill this need in the state.
The Foundation will be monitoring the implementation of this new office to ensure it lives up to its mission to “promote equal access to high quality health care, control costs and ensure better health for the people of Connecticut.”
The Foundation remains vigilant about hospital systems’ growing monopolies and their power to raise health care prices. Often, one of the only avenues for advocacy against these is to testify at Certificate of Need public hearings, run by the Office of Health Care Access, which has to approve these types of health system mergers. And the Foundation was there to elevate the voices of the consumers, patients and communities these huge systems are supposed to serve.
In 2017, the Foundation weighed in on Hartford HealthCare’s purchase of the Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, CT – and the conditions of the deal were the most extensive we’ve seen yet. Measures in the final agreement that the Foundation pushed for included caps on price increases and requirements for investment in community health. A community representative must be a voting member on the regional board of directors and the community must be kept informed of the hospital’s activities.
We continue to monitor the merger landscape and applaud these moves towards protecting patients and communities from health system monopolies.
We submitted written testimony on 28 bills on issues including the Office of Health Strategy, prescription drug costs, health insurance affordability, women’s health, and more.
29 partner organizations and 450 individuals
signed on to the Protect Our Care CT campaign
Grant dollars awarded in 2017
Grant dollars since inception
Summary of Finances
Sheila and Jerry Berkelhammer
Rev. Dave Nelson
Dr. Efrain Agosto
Diane and Walter Ariker
Jean and Kurt Barwis
Margaret Carey Best
Dr. Pat Checko
Mili and Luis Goitia
Dr. Julio Morales
Alice Pritchard and Dana Bugl
Laurie Santos and Martin Cherniack
Dr. Stephen Smith
Mary Jane Williams
Dr. Elsa Stone and Dr. Steven Wolfson
Vivian Acevedo Rivas
Gloria and Gary Bent
Shelley and Gordon Geballe
Rev. Don Hoyle
Dr. Daniel Rissi
Connecticut Health Foundation
Foundation for Community Health
Protect Our Care CT event sponsors
Center for Medicare Advocacy
Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
National Association of Social Workers – CT Chapter
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
United Action Connecticut
Connecticut Coalition of Taft-Hartley Health Funds, Inc.
District 1199 New England Health Care Employees Union SEIU
Service Employees International Union – CT State Council
The Connecticut Health Advancement and Research Trust (CHART) is the parent organization of Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut (UHCF). It is a 501(c)3 research, development, and education organization that hosts forums on various issues related to health care policy in Connecticut.
The Foundation supports CHART’s mission by making grants, developing public policy, and supporting research to further the vision of quality, affordable health care for all Connecticut residents.
290 Pratt St, Meriden, CT 06450
203-639-0550 | Universalhealthct.org
Dan Livingston, J.D., Chair
Nancy Burton, CNM, MS, Chair