April 18th Health Care Action Day brings activists to Hartford

By Ethan Handa |

Ethan Handa is a first-year graduate student at the Yale School of Public Health.  He is interning with the Foundation this semester.  He attended his first grassroots action day at the State Capitol on April 18th.

At Protect Our Care CT’s second Health Care Action Day, we saw how a group of people can be mobilized to take action and attempt to provoke health care justice out of their representatives.  The event convened in a nearby church, where health care advocates and leaders spoke on 4 specific bills and issues that have been the focus of Protect Our Care CT’s legislative advocacy this session.

The crowd of people had the opportunity to listen to and ask questions of the speakers, bring together people from all over the state.

Putting Affordable Care Act Protection into State Law

The first bill was HB 5210, which looks to put Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) into Connecticut law.  Susan Yolen of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England spoke on this, specifically touching on how important contraception coverage and women’s health care are in this bill.  These Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions and other, yet necessary, services must be protected under this bill, which is why it was so important to talk to legislators on this issue.

Learn more about this issue: Fact Sheet from Planned Parenthood on HB 5210

Restoring Medicaid cuts made in last year’s budget

Geralynn McGee of Greater Hartford Legal Aid addressed the 2017 HUSKY A Medicaid cuts, which are set to impact 13,000 CT parents and caregivers throughout the state.  These Medicaid cuts will have a great effect on these people on January 1, 2019, when they lose their coverage, many who are working.

The much more publicized Medicare Savings Program cut that affects 113,000 low income seniors and people with disabilities was also discussed.

Learn more about this issue:

Pushing Back on Rising Prescription Drug Costs

HB 5384 was also spoken about, which looks to curb pharmaceutical prices by providing the state and consumers with transparency on drug pricing hikes.  The Foundation’s Jill Zorn spoke on this issue.  She also spoke about the importance of keeping Section 7 in the bill, which influences prescription cost-sharing by making sure consumers get the benefit of rebates, and is one step towards lowering the cost of medications at the pharmacy for patient-consumers.

Learn more about this issue: Check out this blog post on a recent poll done in Connecticut released by the Foundation – and explains a little more about the bill.

Exploring New Ways to Expand Coverage

Tom Swan of Connecticut Citizen Action Group discussed HB 5463: An Act Concerning a Medicaid Public Option, which advocates want to pass to begin research on a public option for Connecticut.  This bill is not asking for the creation of a public option, but rather the study of plans for future development in Connecticut over time.

Talking to Legislators As The End of the Legislative Session Nears

In addition to the information on Protect Our Care’s agenda, concerned citizens in attendance were urged to speak with their state Senators and Representatives at the nearby Capitol.  Advocates and activists headed over to the Capitol and shared their concerns with legislators, and gave them one-page fact sheet on the four issues.

This mobilization was important, as it influenced people to speak to their legislators and in turn, promote change.  Overall, the day was a success, as it saw ordinary citizens making an impact in a fight for this highly important legislation.  This is significant in this shorter legislative session year, as legislators are less motivated to attack many ideas and invoke changes to CT law and process.  However, we hope that this mobilization had some impact and change on the future of Connecticut’s health care.  We really hope that these bills and ideas gain some traction in the three-week countdown to the end of the session.

Missed Health Care Action Day?  You can still speak up for health care!

Want to talk to your legislators about these issues?  There’s still time to call your legislators to talk to them about these important health care issues.

Don’t know who your legislators are?  Click here to Find Your Legislator and get their contact information.

For info on the four issues discussed at Health Care Action Day to share with your legislators, click here.