Rev. Josh Pawelek and Rhona Cohen, chair of UUS:E’s Social Justice / Antiracism Committee, were in attendance at a rally on Wednesday morning, April 17th, calling on legislators and the governor to maintain funding for HUSKY parents. HUSKY is Connecticut’s program for providing health coverage to low income children, parents, relative caregivers, elders, individuals with disabilities, adults without minor children, and pregnant women. (HUSKY stands for “Healthcare for UninSured Kids and Youth.) Governor Malloy’s current budget proposal would drop coverage for parents who earn between 130% and 185% of the federal poverty line, and direct them to purchase their insurance on Connecticut’s new Health Care Exchange, known as Access Health CT. However, virtually every analysis of this idea concludes that HUSKY parents would not be able to afford to purchase insurance through the Exchange. (Read the first bullet point here.) This would effectively leave HUSKY parents without access to affordable healthcare. Thus the Gov’s proposal seeks to balance the state budget on the backs of those who can least afford it.
The UUS:E Social Justice / Antiracism Committee has been involved in efforts to expand health care in the state of CT for many years. And Rev. Josh has been a leader with the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Healthcare (IFUHC) for the last six years. Other IFUHC members at the rally were Imam Kashif Abdul-Kareem of the Muhammad Islamic Center of Greater Hartford and Rev. (and Hartford City Councilor) Joel Cruz of Hartford’s House of Praise and Worship, Inc. We’ve believed for a while now that CT’s health care system can come close to covering every resident through a patchwork of different public and private programs. But the failure to fund coverage for HUSKY parents will put a big hole in that patchwork. The failure to fund HUSKY parents moves us backwards, not forwards.
At the rally, Teresa Younger, Executive Director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, pointed out that we’re not talking about whether or not these families have enough money to afford cable tv. She said this is about having enough money to buy food and medicine and not having to choose one over the other. We can do better for the most vulnerable among us.