The Gift of Health - Undocumented Immigrant Children 12 and Under to Gain Access to HUSKY Health Plan in 2023
In a journey that began in 2019, a coalition of Connecticut non-profits, advocacy groups, and healthcare professionals will finally start to reap the fruits of its labor.
On January 1, 2023, as the New Year rings in, access to HUSKY Medicaid will become available for undocumented immigrant children ages 0-12 years old, along with pre and postnatal care for undocumented immigrant pregnant women.
In 2019, The HUSKY 4 Immigrants, a coalition of Connecticut immigrants' rights organizers, healthcare advocacy organizers, community leaders, healthcare providers, faith leaders, and unions, was created to fight for access to healthcare and health coverage for Connecticut's immigrant population.
In the lead-up to the 2020 legislative session, the HUSKY 4 Immigrants Coalition prepared to support legislation that would open HUSKY access for all immigrants, regardless of status. Unable to see the introduction of a comprehensive bill in their first year of advocacy, a bill was proposed that would create a task force to study the issue: H.B.5251: "An Act Establishing a Taskforce to Study Health Insurance Coverage for Undocumented Immigrants in This State." The bill was not voted on as the COVID pandemic progressed and the legislature shut down.
At the beginning of the 2021 legislative session, the HUSKY 4 Immigrants coalition continued to push for the expansion of the HUSKY Medicaid program in the Connecticut legislature. For the first time, an inclusive HUSKY for Immigrants bill was introduced and passed out of committee.
Support for SB 956: An Act Providing Medical Assistance to Certain Individuals Regardless of Immigration Status. Healthcare access for immigrant communities had seen significant momentum this session among elected officials and our state's healthcare providers. At an over 12-hour public hearing for SB956, more than 250 persons submitted testimony in support of the bill, the majority of whom were undocumented and represented grassroots immigrant rights groups across CT. Public testimony in support was also presented by: Stamford Health, Fair Haven Community Health Care, Yale New Haven Children's Hospital, the Connecticut Hospital Association, and the National Association of Social Workers. In addition, more than 300 healthcare providers from across the state have signed a letter of support for the bill.
In June 2021, the Senate and the House of Representatives of the CT General Assembly passed HB 6687, an Act Concerning Medical Assistance for Children And Adults Without Health Care Coverage. The act is now known as Public Act 21-176, which would provide access to HUSKY Medicaid to undocumented immigrant children ages 0-8 years old and pre and postnatal care for undocumented immigrant pregnant women.
In May 2022, legislators expanded the coverage to children 12 and younger and allowed any child in that age group who signs up for coverage to keep the insurance through age 19, starting in January 2023. Children older than 12 on January 1 would not be eligible.
"The fact that this was able to be included in the budget shows the power our community has," said Carolina Bortolleto, a volunteer with the HUSKY for Immigrants Coalition and a co-founder of Connecticut Students for a Dream, in an interview with the CT Mirror. "And it shows that our legislators know this was the right thing to do."
But what are these programs, and how can the community use them?
HUSKY B - Prenatal Care
HUSKY B - Prenatal Care provides health care to unborn children of non-citizen pregnant individuals with a household income up to 263% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and those who do not qualify for Medicaid due to immigration status. This new program provides the full range of HUSKY Health benefits for pregnant individuals, including, but not limited to, maternity care, preventive care, hospital stays, and more. For more information on HUSKY benefits, go to https://portal.ct.gov/HUSKY and click on Benefit Overview. Once born, the baby will continue to receive HUSKY health care coverage under HUSKY A - Newborn.
How much does the coverage cost?
There is no premium (monthly charge) for HUSKY B - Prenatal Care. Also, there are no copayments for pregnancy-related care, such as prenatal office visits or vitamins. However, there is cost-sharing (copayments) for other HUSKY B services, such as specialist visits and dental services.
HUSKY A and State HUSKY B for Undocumented Children
These programs cover uninsured children ages 0-12 with household income between 0-323% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), who do not qualify for regular HUSKY A Medicaid or HUSKY B CHIP coverage because they do not have a qualifying immigration status, (beginning January 1, 2023).
What is HUSKY A?
Connecticut children living at up to 201% of the Federal Poverty Level and their parents or a relative caregiver with incomes at or below are eligible for HUSKY insurance plan A. The plan provides health coverage, including medical, dental, vision, and prescription health care. Primary benefits for all HUSKY Health members include:
Women's Health Care
Family Planning Services
Long-term Services and Support
Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy/Speech Therapy
Durable Medical Equipment
Orthotic and Prosthetic Devices
Home Health Care
Hospital Outpatient Care
X-rays and other Radiology Services
Dental Services (through CT Dental Health Partnership)
Behavioral Health Services (through CT Behavioral Health Partnership)
There are some benefits available only to HUSKY A. These benefits are:
-Non-emergency transportation to health care appointments
-Smoking cessation services: counseling and medications
-Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis & Treatment (also known as EPSDT): children under 21 can receive medically necessary services even if they are not covered benefits.
What is HUSKY B?
Uninsured children under age 19 in higher-income households (between 185%-323% FPL) may be eligible for HUSKY B (also known as Children's Health Insurance Program or CHIP). HUSKY B members are also responsible for cost-sharing (monthly premiums for members in eligibility Band 2, copayments, and co-insurance) for certain services. HUSKY B children may qualify for supplemental benefits if their medical needs go beyond what HUSKY B offers. This extra coverage is provided through HUSKY Plus. There are no co-pays for HUSKY Plus. All services received through HUSKY Plus require authorization before service is received. It is the provider's responsibility to obtain prior approval from the HUSKY Plus program. For more information about HUSKY Plus, call 1.800.859.9889.
For a complete list of benefits available for both plans, visit website.
To apply for both programs:
Phone: Access Health CT at 1-855-805-4325. If you are deaf or hearing impaired, you may use TTY at 1-855-789-2428 or call a relay operator. The state strongly encourages phone applications to get an immediate decision about qualifying for the program. Or you may also: Request a paper application to be mailed by calling Access Health CT at 1-855-805-4325 or Visiting a DSS Service Center in person (www.ct.gov/dss/fieldoffices).