HARTFORD, Conn. (Oct. 19, 2023) – Grants from the Connecticut Health Foundation will support advocacy efforts to expand health care coverage to more immigrants and to ensure that those who are eligible can get covered.
Connecticut has significantly reduced the number of state residents without health insurance in the past decade, but approximately 175,000 people remain without coverage. Among those most likely to lack coverage are undocumented residents, most of whom are ineligible for Medicaid – known as HUSKY in Connecticut – or to buy coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange.
A coalition of advocacy organizations has been working in recent years toward policy changes to assure that all immigrants have access to coverage. Following their earlier advocacy efforts, Connecticut opened access to HUSKY to all children under 13, regardless of immigration status, beginning this year. Starting July 1, 2024, the age limit will rise to 15. Coverage is also available to undocumented residents who are pregnant and postpartum, if they meet income guidelines.
Funding from the Connecticut Health Foundation will support four organizations to continue their advocacy work for policy changes that allow more residents to qualify for coverage, with efforts that include training community members in advocacy skills and ways to share their experiences, outreach to broaden the advocacy base, ensuring that newly eligible residents know about their coverage options, and sharing information and concerns about the new coverage implementation with state officials.
The organizations and grants are:
HUSKY 4 Immigrants, Bridgeport: $65,000
HUSKY 4 Immigrants will work to engage new members in the advocacy coalition; offer workshops to build skills and knowledge for coalition members; conduct outreach to ensure undocumented residents know about available coverage; and meet with state officials to monitor and address any challenges in the implementation of the new coverage.
CT Students for a Dream, Bridgeport: $65,000
CT Students for a Dream will conduct organizing work in Danbury, New Haven, and New Britain, with a focus on immigrants and youth of color. The organizing and training will include skills such as sharing their stories about access to health care and other aspects of advocacy. In addition, the organization plans to develop a curriculum for building members’ understanding and analysis of the state’s health care system.
Make the Road CT, Hartford: $65,000
Make the Road CT’s work includes community education, story collection, advocacy training, and coalition building, focused on immigrant and working-class communities. The organization will host educational workshops on health care access and eligibility issues and train members in sharing their stories about the effects of not having health care coverage.
Center for Children’s Advocacy, Hartford: $65,000
The Center for Children’s Advocacy will advocate for expanding HUSKY to all undocumented children and youth, with work that includes data analysis meant to address fiscal concerns about the potential cost of coverage expansion. In addition, the organization will monitor the enrollment process for newly eligible children and advocate for effective processes and ensuring that any barriers that emerge are addressed. The organization will also partner with immigrants’ rights organizations and medical providers to help support young people and their parents in their advocacy efforts.
“The individuals and organizations working to ensure immigrants can get the coverage they need have done a phenomenal job in advocating for their communities and making clear why coverage for all residents is so important,” Connecticut Health Foundation President and CEO Tiffany Donelson said. “We are proud to continue supporting their tremendous work, which not only produces better policies for our state but empowers community members with the tools to speak up and get involved in the policymaking process to improve Connecticut for all of us.”
“We have achieved progress, but we know that health care remains an urgent need in the undocumented community, and that pushes us forward,” said Luis Luna, coalition manager for HUSKY 4 Immigrants. “Health care is a human right, and we need our elected officials in Connecticut to commit to a long-term vision where every immigrant, regardless of status, can access quality care when they need it.”
These grants are among 12 awarded in the third quarter of 2023, totaling $497,500. The others are:
Access Health CT, Hartford: $40,000
This grant will support Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange, in conducting a survey of people whose Medicaid enrollment ends, with the goal of understanding why they are no longer covered by Medicaid, whether they secured other coverage, how to better connect eligible people to public coverage options, and how minimize the number of people who go uninsured. This survey will occur against the backdrop of the Medicaid “unwinding,” a 12-month process started last spring following the end of a COVID-19 pandemic policy that allowed anyone eligible for Medicaid to remain covered. With the end of that policy, more than 500,000 Connecticut residents must have their Medicaid eligibility renewed, and some are at risk of losing coverage through the process even if they still qualify. Access Health CT is seeking to eliminate gaps in coverage and assure that eligible residents stay covered, and intends to use the survey results to help people who are eligible stay covered, help those who no longer quality for Medicaid enroll in other coverage, and minimize the number of people who become uninsured.
Cross Street Training & Academic Center, Middletown: $65,000
This funding will support the Ministerial Health Fellowship, a coalition of Black faith leaders, in its advocacy on issues related to Medicaid, medical debt, and access to coverage for undocumented residents. The organization’s goals include securing Medicaid payment for community health worker and doula services, expanding Medicaid eligibility to higher income levels, and assuring that undocumented residents are eligible for coverage. The organization will also continue its advocacy for streamlining access to hospital financial assistance policies, with the goal of reducing medical debt.
President’s discretionary grants
President’s discretionary grants are awarded to organizations and institutions that respond to the foundation’s overall mission or priority areas.
Center for Children’s Advocacy, Hartford: $25,000
The Center for Children’s Advocacy’s medical-legal partnership project connects health care providers with attorneys who can help identify and address problems affecting their patients. This funding will support the organization in piloting the use of a part-time medical director with expertise in developmental disabilities and behavioral health, who will work with pediatric providers to improve behavioral health outcomes for children with autism and behavioral health diagnoses.
Connecticut Center for Patient Safety, Fairfield: $25,000
This funding will support the first phase of a project to develop a curriculum for educating and empowering young adult immigrants and refugees as they transition from pediatric care to adult health care. The project work will include working with experts to identify barriers that prevent young adult immigrants from accessing safe, high-quality health care, and then working with them to identify solutions and creating a targeted educational program.
Connecticut Foundation for Dental Outreach, Southington: $7,500
This funding will support the Connecticut Mission of Mercy Free Dental Clinic, which provides oral health care and education. This year’s free clinic will be held Oct. 27 and 28 at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven, and is expected to serve more than 1,000 people.
Greater Bridgeport Area Prevention Program, Bridgeport: $25,000
This funding will support the organization’s Phoenix Initiative, which aims to reduce or eliminate racial disparities in health outcomes by building partnerships between service providers and faith-based organizations that are trusted by community members. The program will provide trauma-informed, trauma-specific training to pastors and parishioners in their churches about the complexities of healing from trauma. It will also link participants to other community agencies where they can receive health care, mental health care, and social services. The goal is to provide Black community members with the tools they need to navigate challenges in their everyday lives and to help reduce barriers to care and services.
Hartford Interval House, Hartford: $25,000
This grant will support Hartford Interval House’s work to address domestic violence by working with health care providers and other partners. The organization’s activities include outreach and training for health care professionals to help them identify when people are experiencing abuse and provide them with materials and resources to provide support. In addition, the organization will provide education to students and toolkits for school nurses, educators, and parents, and raise awareness about teen dating violence and domestic violence as a public health crisis.
Statewide Legal Services, Wethersfield: $25,000
This funding will support work to establish a medical-legal partnership between Statewide Legal Services and Malta House of Care, a free mobile medical clinic that provides care to uninsured adults. In a medical-legal partnership, a lawyer becomes part of a health care team, and can help address challenges such as access to housing or benefits – issues that aren’t medical but can have a significant effect on people’s health. The work funded by this grant will include surveying patients to identify the barriers they face to health equity, examining features of other medical-legal partnership models to identify what would work in this partnership, and identifying resources to ensure sustainability.
About the Connecticut Health Foundation
The Connecticut Health Foundation is the state’s largest independent health philanthropy dedicated to improving health outcomes for people of color. Since its creation in 1999, the foundation has awarded more than $76 million to nonprofit organizations and public entities to expand health equity, reduce health disparities, expand health coverage, and improve the health of all Connecticut residents.