State Representative\u00a0John Frey\u00a0(R-111) attended a meeting of Ridgefield\u2019s Committee on Aging with State Senator\u00a0Toni Boucher\u00a0(R-26)at Ridgefield Town Hall\u00a0on Monday\u00a0to discuss items in the recently-adopted state budget that affect seniors.\u00a0 During the meeting, which was attended by over 70 concerned citizens, he called on the legislature to have a \u201csense of urgency\u201d and to commit to restoring funding for approximately 113,000 elderly and disabled people who would lose all or part of their health coverage as a result of cuts to the Medicare Savings Program (MSP).\u00a0 The two-year budget adopted by the General Assembly\u00a0reduces the income eligibility limits for all categories of participants in the program, in many cases by as much as 50%. \u201cI am calling on my colleagues in the legislature to recognize that massive harm will be done to Connecticut\u2019s elderly and disabled populations if we do not act immediately to address the provision of the budget that makes unexpected cuts to the MSP,\u201d said\u00a0Rep. Frey.\u00a0 \u201cWe have a moral obligation to stand up for the vulnerable people who depend on this program and cannot afford the drastic increase in healthcare costs.\u00a0 There is no excuse not to act on this pressing issue \u2013 the General Assembly needs to be reconvened before the end of the year to fix this and reassure our seniors and disabled populations that they are not forgotten.\u201d The Department of Social Services (DSS) announced last week that it would delay implementation of eligibility reductions to the state\u2019s MSP program until\u00a0March 1, 2018, while it conducts a review of coverage alternatives, a development\u00a0Rep. Frey\u00a0called \u201chelpful in the short term, but absolutely not a solution or a reason for peace of mind for the 86,000 low-income seniors who would be disqualified from the program and the 27,000 who would have their coverage reduced.\u201d\u00a0 He also noted that many of these seniors might not qualify for alternative coverage. The reduction of income eligibility for the MSP, which is paid for with Medicaid funding, was carried over from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy\u2019s budget proposal. The changes would save the state $53.9 million in 2018 and $130 million in 2019.\u00a0 To explain why cuts to the program were included,\u00a0Rep. Frey\u00a0pointed to the devastating impact on the budget of the SEBAC union contract approved in July that locked in expensive state union benefits for ten years. \u201cConnecticut residents are completely fed up with public sector union agreements like SEBAC getting top priority from the majority party while everyone else is ignored and left wondering what the future holds for them,\u201d said\u00a0Rep. Frey.\u00a0 \u201cWhen it came down to locking in expensive benefits for state employees for ten years, majority legislators fell over themselves trying to approve it as quickly as possible \u2013 before even working on a state budget.\u00a0 With SEBAC passed, it is painfully obvious that ensuring vulnerable populations have access to healthcare is less of a priority for them as they continue to drag their feet. That sends a disturbing message to Connecticut residents and the rest of the country. Let\u2019s address this problem with the sense of urgency that people worried about their health deserve.\u00a0 We cannot keep them waiting any longer.\u201d House and Senate leadership are currently discussing a bipartisan plan to restore funding to the MSP and hope to soon announce a day to reconvene both chambers during the week after Christmas. State Rep. John Frey represents the 111th\u00a0Assembly district, which covers most of the Town of Ridgefield.