MERIDEN — Medical professionals from Community Health Center Inc. called on U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal to help save funding for children’s health care programs.
“I am back to talk about federally qualified health centers,” Blumenthal told the group gathered at the State Street center. “But even more urgently children’s health. All my colleagues say ‘it will get done, don’t worry.’ ..I’m worried. This fear is compounding as we go along.”
Congress approved a short-term spending bill in December to fund federal agencies at last year’s levels until Jan. 19.
Blumenthal said one of the reasons he voted against the short-term spending bill was because he felt it underfunded health programs.
Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, has not been authorized since Sept., 30, the end of the last federal fiscal year. The CHIP program, known as Husky B in Connecticut, covers 17,000 children in the state. Their families earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but would otherwise struggle to afford health insurance.
The Community Heath Center in Meriden serves 1,000 children currently enrolled in CHIP. About one-quarter of the city uses the services at the center, and 70 percent of the children are on Medicaid. There are more than 20 other health center locations in the state.
“We will see a crisis if CHC is not funded,” Blumenthal said.
Melissa Gualazzi, an outreach and eligibility specialist at the CHC, said without CHIP funding, families face high deductibles on preventative visits. The professionals fear children in need of regular treatment for things like asthma or diabetes will not get the necessary services.
The experts also expect a shift to expensive emergency room visits when treatment isn’t maintained on a regular basis.
“What we see with adults are the terrible ravages of not having insurance,” said Amy Taylor, CHC vice president of Western Region. “We’re going to start seeing that in children.
Blumenthal said he will continue his push for CHIP and other funding for children’s health.
”Hopefully, we’ll make some progress,” Blumenthal said.