HARTFORD, Conn. (June 29, 2021) – Grants from the Connecticut Health Foundation will support five organizations in their advocacy work to expand access to health care coverage for state residents.
While Connecticut has made significant strides in increasing the number of state residents with health care coverage, close to 200,000 people remain uninsured, leaving them at greater risk of poor health outcomes from delayed or avoided care, as well as financially vulnerable if they need emergency treatment.
Connecticut’s uninsured residents are disproportionately people of color and many have incomes just above the poverty level, putting them just above the income limit for Medicaid. In addition, many of Connecticut’s uninsured residents are ineligible for assistance to purchase coverage because they are undocumented.
Research released by the foundation in 2020 identified policy options the state could take to make coverage more affordable, including expanding eligibility for Medicaid or creating state financial assistance to help lower-income residents buy coverage through Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange. Another research brief provided insights into the costs and likely uptake of coverage if Connecticut were to expand Medicaid to cover undocumented children, as six other states have done.
“Having health care coverage is a crucial first step to being healthy, and ensuring that all residents have access to affordable coverage is a necessary step toward achieving health equity,” said Tiffany Donelson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. “Advocacy is essential in assuring that policies reflect the perspectives of people most affected by state leaders’ choices, and we are proud to support strong advocates in their work to assure that as many people as possible can get covered.”
State lawmakers recently took action to provide financial assistance to low-income residents purchasing coverage through Access Health CT and to cover undocumented children ages 8 and younger beginning in 2023. In addition, work led by the Office of Health Strategy and Office of the State Comptroller to develop a Connecticut Healthcare Affordability Index aims to help policymakers analyze the impact of policy options on households’ ability to afford health care.
“We are grateful that lawmakers recognize the importance of covering all Connecticut residents and ensuring that everyone has access to affordable health care,” Donelson said. “We know there is more to be done to achieve this goal and we look forward to supporting work to help get there.”
The foundation awarded the following 15-month grants:
Cross Street Training & Academic Center, Middletown: $62,500
This funding supports advocacy work by the Ministerial Health Fellowship, an organization of Black faith leaders who work to address barriers to health. The organization’s advocacy work will focus on access to Medicaid and on meeting the needs of Black and Latinx state residents.
Make the Road CT, Bridgeport: $62,500 (15 months)
Make the Road CT, an organization that primarily serves Latinx, immigrant, and working-class communities, will advocate for changes to address racial and ethnic disparities in access to health insurance.
Connecticut State Employees Association (CSEA) SEIU Local 2001, Hartford: $62,500 (15 months)
CSEA SEIU is a union that includes thousands of childcare providers and school bus drivers who do not receive health insurance through their jobs and struggle to afford insurance. The union plans to advocate for policies to provide more affordable coverage options to low-income workers.
Center for Children’s Advocacy, Hartford: $82,000 (15 months)
This funding will support the Center for Children’s Advocacy in its advocacy for the expansion of health care coverage to undocumented children and teenagers under 19. An estimated 13,000 children and teens in Connecticut are undocumented and could lack access to health care services when they need it.
Connecticut Students for a Dream, Bridgeport: $82,000 (15 months)
This funding will support Connecticut Students for a Dream in its HUSKY 4 Immigrants campaign to assure that all state residents have access to coverage, regardless of immigration status.
Other grants awarded
The coverage expansion grants were among 12 awarded this quarter, totaling $561,500. The others are:
Connecticut Association of School Based Health Centers, North Haven: $50,000
This funding will support the Connecticut Association of School Based Health Centers as it works to promote wider access to school-based health centers, particularly in underserved areas and places that do not currently have school-based health centers, and ensure they are linked to other health care systems that serve children.
Connecticut Office of Health Strategy, Hartford: $50,000
This funding will support the continued development of the Connecticut Healthcare Affordability Index, or CHAI, a tool intended to help policymakers analyze how health care costs affect state residents and how potential policy changes could affect the cost burden that different households face.
Trusted messenger grant
Information is critical in a public health crisis and often, the messenger is as important as the message itself. Messages are far more effective when they are delivered by trusted sources. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Connecticut Health Foundation has awarded $231,000 in grants for organizations that serve as trusted messengers. This quarter, the foundation awarded the following trusted messenger grant:
Hispanic Health Council, Hartford: $15,000
President’s discretionary grants are awarded to organizations and institutions that respond to the foundation’s overall mission or priority areas.
DataHaven, New Haven: $25,000
This funding will support DataHaven in producing its Community Wellbeing Survey, based on in-depth, live interviews with thousands of people throughout Connecticut. This year’s survey will include questions related to COVID-19 and its economic impacts. This funding will also enable DataHaven to include questions related to telehealth.
Latinas & Power Corp., Essex: $25,000
This funding will support Latinas & Power Corp. in its work to create the Latinas in Leadership Institute, a virtual learning platform that will offer certification in executive leadership and community advocacy, with a focus on health and social justice.
Record-Journal, Inc., Meriden: $25,000
This funding supports RJ Media Group, the parent company of the Record-Journal newspaper and other Meriden-area publications, in its effort to provide trusted information on the COVID-19 vaccines to Latino communities. Although Latino residents are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, they are less likely than white residents to get vaccinated and are disproportionately affected by disinformation about the vaccines. Through this project, the Record-Journal is producing and publishing information about the COVID-19 vaccines in English and Spanish, and working with partners to distribute it widely.
University of Connecticut Foundation, Storrs: $20,000
This funding supports the ideas lab at the UConn Health Disparities Institute’s 2021 State of Health Equity among Boys and Men of Color Summit. The ideas lab is intended to serve as an incubator and creative workshop to support innovative solutions to complex problems. This grant will provide seed funding for a selected team and mentors. This grant was awarded in partnership with the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, which also awarded $20,000 to support the ideas lab.