MURPHY: SIGN UP FOR HEALTH CARE DURING OPEN ENROLLMENT AND GET YOUR FLU SHOT

HARTFORD—Following the announcement of the first two flu-related deaths in Connecticut this season, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, along with U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell, on Friday held a press conference in Hartford at the Charter Oak Family Health Center urging Connecticut residents to get their flu shots and stressed the importance of signing up for Affordable Care Act-complaint health insurance during open season. Murphy also discussed the need for long-term, stable funding for community health centers, which are reliant on federal grant support that is set to expire at the end of the current continuing resolution.

Earlier this month, Murphy authored an op-ed in the CT Mirror at the start of open enrollment season highlighting the importance of the Affordable Care Act and signing up for ACA-complaint health coverage.

“There are two things you can do to protect yourself from the flu: you can get the shot and you can make sure you have health insurance. That shot is most important right now. But if you end up coming down with a version of influenza, then you need to be able to get health care and the only way to get health care without it bankrupting you is to have insurance,” said Murphy.

Murphy continued: “In Connecticut, the majority of people who go on [Access Health CT] qualify for subsidies, and the average subsidy in Connecticut is about $500 per month. So people can find affordable health care, by and large, if they're going to shop for health care on the Connecticut exchange.”

“Obviously, [Senator Blumenthal and my] job is to fight hard against the president's sabotage campaign in Washington. Our job is to stick up for our great health centers to make sure that they have the funding that they need. But your job as citizens of Connecticut, as parents, as grandparents is to make sure that your family gets a flu shot as soon as possible. And to make sure that your family has health insurance,” Murphy concluded.

Full transcript of Murphy’s opening remarks are below:

“Thank you to our friends at Charter Oak for having us here today. It's wonderful to be back at a health center that is serving so many families here in Hartford and in the surrounding areas.

“Amongst our to do list for the final few months of the legislative session is to extend the funding for health centers all across the country that allow for these doors to be kept open. The lion's share of funding that keeps community health centers in business is federal dollars. Those federal dollars expire in November and if we don't pass that legislation, then there are going to be consumers here who aren't going to be able to get access to care for the flu or for whatever medical emergency they are coming here to get service for. 

“Senator Blumenthal is right: two deaths are too many. We've already had about 100 people in Connecticut who have been hospitalized for flu symptoms. We expect, once again, this will be a difficult flu season.

“There are two things you can do to protect yourself from the flu: you can get the shot and you can make sure you have health insurance. That shot is most important right now. But if you end up coming down with a version of influenza, then you need to be able to get health care, and the only way to get health care without it bankrupting you is to have insurance.

“Open enrollment closes down December 15th. And if you don't have insurance through the exchange by December 15th, then even if you get diagnosed with the flu, you can't go and sign up after December 15th. 

“So, it's imperative that people go to Access Health CT and shop online for a plan before December 15th that will provide them health insurance for the season. Getting the shot is important but, getting insurance and making sure that you and your family are covered before the middle of December is incredibly important as well.

“Plans are affordable. In Connecticut, the majority of people who go on to the website qualify for subsidies, and the average subsidy in Connecticut is about $500 per month. So people can find affordable health care, by and large, if they're going to shop for health care on the Connecticut exchange.

“The premium increases have been small this year. So, you're not going to see a big jump in this year's premiums from last year's premiums on the exchange. That's a real benefit to Connecticut consumers as well.

“But as Senator Blumenthal mentioned, the Trump administration for the last two and a half years has been engaged in an effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Many people in Connecticut don't think that the Affordable Care Act still provides them options for insurance that's affordable because of the attacks that Donald Trump has launched. And he has launched devastating attacks.

“He's pulled money for marketing. He's pulled money for navigators. He's shut down payments to insurance companies. He's launched a lawsuit in court to try to overturn the entirety of the Act.

“But the Affordable Care Act survives. It's still there, despite the way that the president talks about Obamacare on TV. If you go to Access Health CT today, you will find health care available to you. And health care that for most people is very, very affordable.

“So those are our two messages here today. Obviously, our job is to fight hard against the president's sabotage campaign in Washington. Our job is to stick up for our great health centers to make sure that they have the funding that they need.

“But your job as citizens of Connecticut, as parents, as grandparents is to make sure that your family gets a flu shot as soon as possible. And to make sure that your family has health insurance.

“We're really glad to be joined here today by somebody who knows a lot about the provision of health care and health insurance and that is our great Commissioner, the Department of Public Health Commissioner Coleman-Mitchell.”

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