Archive | October, 2014

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Q&A: Will Congress Save Health Insurance Program for Low-Income Kids?


Ed. Note: Unless Congress acts, federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which matches state dollars to provide health coverage for children under 19 in low-income families, will end next year. Ed Walz is vice president of First Focus, a DC-based advocacy organization for children and families that focuses on federal policymaking. He spoke with NAM Reporter Anna Challet about the future of CHIP and the likelihood of Congress stepping in to preserve the program.

Who does CHIP provide health coverage for?

CHIP provides coverage for 8 million children or so throughout the course of the year who would otherwise be uninsured because their parents work and make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford the high cost of private insurance … Before CHIP, the uninsured rate among kids was about 15 percent. Today it’s about 7 percent. It’s essentially cut the uninsured rate among children in half.

With the Affordable Care Act now fully implemented, why is CHIP still necessary?

Kids who are covered by CHIP today would not all be able to get coverage through the ACA if CHIP were to go away … If it did go away, some of the kids would move into Medicaid, but it’s a relatively small number, in part because not every state has expanded Medicaid, but also because CHIP covers kids well in excess of the Medicaid expansion level. The ACA now requires that Medicaid expand to 138 percent of the federal poverty level in states that choose that option, but … CHIP covers kids much higher up the income scale. For example, in my home state of Wisconsin, it’s 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

If CHIP were to go away, the ACA wouldn’t pick [some] kids up because of what’s called the family glitch, or the children’s glitch. That has to do with a problem in the way the IRS implemented the tax subsidies for the exchanges [the state health insurance marketplaces created by the ACA]. Essentially it means that as many as 2 million kids who would otherwise qualify for exchange coverage won’t get the subsidies they need to make it affordable, so they won’t get insurance. Even in a post-ACA world, there’s not a coverage solution for all the kids who are currently in CHIP.

The other problem is that if kids do get exchange coverage, research shows that it won’t be as valuable or as good as the coverage they currently get through CHIP … At a national level, CHIP provides more than 80 percent of the child-specific care that kids need, while average exchange plans provide a little over half of that child-specific care. And at the same time, CHIP plans average less than $100 in out-of-pocket annual costs, whereas the average exchange plan would cost nearly $1000, so ten times the cost for less care.

What is the threat to CHIP right now?

Essentially there are two requirements for a government program to function. One, Congress has to authorize it, and give the agencies permission to run it. [Also] they have to fund it. There’s no requirement that they do those two things on the same schedule. So one of the weird things about where we are right now in the public policy around CHIP is that the federal government has the authority under law to run CHIP through 2019, but funding for CHIP runs out at the end of federal fiscal year 2015, which is the fiscal year we just started. So a year from now, in October 2015, funding for CHIP will end. That’s the real threat. The threat is that even though there might be authorization, there won’t be money, and that is the effective end of CHIP.

The challenge right now is when Congress will extend that funding. And it’s important that Congress act this year, because even though federal funding won’t technically end for another 11 months, the reality is that because CHIP is a federal-state partnership, the budget decisions that happen in the state capitals all over the country matter just as much as the budget debates in Washington. And those state budget debates are happening right now … So it’s important that Congress send a message this year that states can continue to count on federal CHIP funding.

At this point, does it look like Congress will do that?

CHIP is incredibly popular, and it has a strong track record of bipartisanship. So we’re hopeful and have reason to believe, based on our conversations with folks on Capitol Hill, that policymakers understand that CHIP still plays an important role … There’s momentum to get CHIP funding extended in the lame duck session this fall, so after the elections.

What will happen if they don’t?

The honest answer and the scary answer is that we don’t really know what will happen. It’ll vary from state to state, but what we can say is that when we’ve seen a similar problem in the past, the outcome has not been good for children.

California is unfortunately the poster child there. Back in 2009, when the CHIP agency in California ran into a state funding problem, they responded by establishing a waiting list. That meant that kids who were newly eligible for what was then called the Healthy Families program were not enrolled, and kids who were covered by Healthy Families but lost coverage for administrative reasons or for whatever reason then were not able to re-enroll … Even a year after the waiting list was lifted, the agency had only been able to return enrollment levels to 50,000 kids lower than when they put the waiting list in place … If you imagined similar reactions at the national level, it would literally put the health of millions of children at risk.

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Malloy and Harp Announce Plans for New Haven


NEW HAVEN — Connecticut Democrats are seemingly making moves to help Gov. Dannel P. Malloy win the reelection, teaming up with other high-profile politicos from New Haven.

Malloy joined by New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro, New Haven Board of Alders President Jorge Perez and LiveWorkLearnPlay Co-Managing Partner and Founding Principal Max Reim on Thursday announced a $21.5 million investment in phase two of the New Haven’s Downtown Crossing Plan.

thehartfordguardian_10th_anniversary_458x60_01Officials said that these funds will provide the infrastructure improvements needed to pave the way for the $395 million redevelopment of the former New Haven Coliseum site by developer LiveWorkLearnPlay.  The project is expected to generate 2,809 permanent jobs at full operation creating $188,810,000 in annual wages.

LiveWorkLearnPlay officials said they, too, are also working with the city and New Haven Works to ensure employment opportunities for residents.

The Downtown Crossing Phase II project transforms this area of New Haven, removing a highway that has been a barrier to connectivity, and replacing the highway with urban boulevards.  This funding will allow for Union Station, the Medical District and the Hill neighborhood to connect with Downtown New Haven by rejoining South Orange Street across the current Route 34 towards Union Station, along an at-grade street for pedestrians, cyclists and automobiles.

Downtown Crossing is expected allow the Coliseum Site Redevelopment to attract 35 to 40 new small to mid-sized permanent businesses and up to 25 seasonal incubator businesses, along with a mix of quality housing options ranging from market rate, low, moderate, workforce and affordable housing.

Downtown Crossing, the city’s plan to transform Route 34 East reclaiming 10 acres of land ideally suited for transit-oriented development, is a major keystone in the city’s overall redevelopment efforts providing a dense mix of commercial, retail, and housing located within an easy walk of transit.

 

 

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Radio Station to Host Last Gov. Debate


HARTFORD — Connoisseur Media’s 1029 DRC, 991 PLR and 95.9 the FOX morning show  “Chaz and AJ In The Morning,” will host the last Connecticut Gubernatorial debate less than 24 hours before the polls open in this dead heat race.

The debate, which will feature incumbent Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy and his Republican challenger Tom Foley, will take place live in studio and broadcast over the 3 signals on Nov. 3rd at 8:30am. Both Malloy and Foley will take questions from Chaz and AJ and listeners of the show.

thehartfordguardian_10th_anniversary_458x60_01“With the amount of undecided voters in a race that is a dead heat, this an incredibly important debate,” co-host Chaz says.  “It’s the very last impression voters will get of the candidates right before they pull the lever.”

“Chaz and Aj are the only show of this type in Connecticut,” says Connoisseur Media Connecticut Operations Manager Keith Dakin. “Governor debate one minute…shock collar trivia the next.”

The debate will be heard throughout the state on three of Connoisseur Media’s Connecticut FM stations.  WPLR 99.1 is a 50,000 watt FM Mainstream Rock Station licensed to New Haven, CT.   WFOX 95.9 is a 3,000 watt FM Classic Rock Station licensed to Stamford/Norwalk, CT.   WDRC 102.9 is a 50,000 watt FM Classic Hits Station licensed to Hartford, CT.

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Hartford Police Investigate 13th Homicide


HARTFORD —  A Hartford man died on Wednesday after suffering multiple wounds from a shoot-out in the South-end of the city, making this the 13th homicide for 2013.

The victim, Jose O’Casio, 24, of 833 Park St. in Hartford.  O’Casio was on probation at the time of his death, police said.

thehartfordguardian_10th_anniversary_458x60_01According to Hartford Police, they found O’Casio with several wounds after responding at 198 Jefferson St. to a Shot Spotter notification of “multiple shots fired.”

Upon arrival officers found him, suffering from those wounds to the head and body.

The victim was unresponsive and pronounced dead at 1:36 a.m. by responding to EMS personnel.

Police is still investigating.

Anyone with information is asked to call HPD/MCD Homicide LT Brandon O’Brien (860) 757-4089; or web tips can be submitted at http://www.hartford.gov/Police (click “Submit and anonymous Tip”).

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Greater Hartford Y Receives Grant


HARTFORD — The YMCA of Greater Hartford received grants totaling $7,000 from the Berkshire Bank Foundation in support of the Wilson-Gray YMCA’s Teen Incentive Program and YMCA Celebrates Champions.

The goal of Y-TIP is to break the cycle of poverty for as many teens as possible by saving lives, building dreams, inspiring learning, and providing impoverished teens with the skills needed to compete in the global marketplace.

The program benefits underserved teenagers from Hartford’s Clay-Arsenal and Upper Albany neighborhoods.

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Foodshare Partners with Center Church


HARTFORD –Foodshare is making efforts to reach more people in need for food.

Thanks to a generous capacity-building grant from the BJ’s Charitable Foundation, Foodshare has worked with Center Church—Meal Programs to help them purchase a commercial reach-in freezer and a commercial reach-in refrigerator, much-needed items that would otherwise be beyond their budget.

The new units will let them provide more perishable food to people in need. In addition to this recent collaboration, Foodshare provided 2,898 pounds of food to Center Church – Meal Programs in the past year to support its work to feed those individuals and families experiencing food insecurity in Hartford.

Center Church – Meal Programs provides several meals to the community throughout the week.  They serve a wide range of people, most of whom have lower income and more of whom are homeless or face housing instability.

This purchase was made possible through a grant awarded to Foodshare by the BJ’s Charitable Foundation. With this funding, Foodshare is able to help several food pantries, soup kitchens, and other partner programs in the greater Hartford area purchase new equipment to store and handle perishable food items, such as freezers, refrigerators, prep tables, and shelving. This increased capacity means that together we will be able to distribute more wholesome food, such as produce, meat, and dairy, to our food insecure neighbors.

Keep up with all of Foodshare’s latest news and media updates by becoming a follower at www.twitter.com/Foodshare.

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Haunted History Tour on Fairfield Ave


HARTFORD — Get ready for a spectacular Halloween tour right here in Hartford.

The Haunted History Lantern Tour at Cedar Hill Cemetery  will take place on the Friday before Halloween at 453 Fairfield Ave. It’s the only night the Cemetery is open to the public after dark.

Led by lantern light, attendees will visit the final resting places of some of Cedar Hill’s notable and not-so-notable residents. Character actors will share their true-yet-darker-tales. To ensure your participation in this tour, reservations are required for specific time slots.

Book your reservations are required for specific time slots. Book your reservations early by Organizers of the tour said this event may not be suitable for children under 13.

Wear appropriate walking shoes and bring a flashlight.

Refreshments will be available for purchase. The tour are from 6-9:30 p.m. and admission is $15.

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LGBT Ball Set for Oct. 24


HARTFORD — Greater Connecticut Gay & Lesbian Chamber will host its first LGBT Masquerade Ball on Oct. 24 from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

This grand event will take place in the atrium of historic Hartford City, 550 Main Street, downtown Hartford and is co-sponsored by the office of Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra.

The event will feature dancing vendors, appetizers, raffles, a best mask contest and more $10 Suggested Donation; cash bar.

For more information, please call the CTGLC office at 860-612-8351.

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Obama to Host Tribal Nations Conference


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will host the 2014 White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC on Dec. 3.

The conference will provide leaders from the 566 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with the President and members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs.

Each federally recognized tribe will be invited to send one representative to the conference.

This will be the sixth White House Tribal Nations Conference for the Obama Administration, and continues to build upon the President’s commitment to strengthen the government-to-government relationship with Indian Country and to improve the lives of Native Americans, White House officials said.

Additional details about the conference will be released at a later date.

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African Americans to Hold Flag Raising Event


The Daughter of Eve and in collaboration with North Hartford Women’s Leadership, and Hartford Area Rally Together, will host an African American flag raising ceremony at City Hall on Oct. 22.

Their ceremony, set for 5 p.m., is being held in honor and memory of community.

Isabel Mendes-Blake founder of the African-American Day Parade.  Participants are asked to wear the Black Liberation colors of red, black and green, as they join Mayor Pedro Segarra and other city, state and community leaders as we celebrate the legacy of Mrs Blake.

For additional information, contact Evelyn Richardson at erichardson@yahoo.com, erichardson@hartofhartford.org, or at 860-888-8906.

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