​Rep. Joe Courtney (D) is now in his third term representing Connecticut’s second district, the eastern half of the state bordered to the south by the Long Island Sound and the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island to the north and east, respectively.
Joe Courtney
A Background In Medicaid
Before he came to Washington, Courtney worked as a state legislator in Hartford, specializing in health care issues. He notably led efforts to reform the state’s Medicaid budget policies in the 1990s, putting in what he describes as “countless hours” on an issue that will not go away as a growing state and national concern.

“The system we put in place is still in use in Connecticut, so it gives me a pretty good taste of the scope of this issue,” he says. Medicaid shortfalls are making headlines on a daily basis these days as most states grapple with huge budget deficits and look to programs such as care for low-income seniors for cutting.

The actual and proposed cuts are made even more acute because funds contained in the economic stimulus law will run out mid-year, taking away the partial Band-Aid that was helping to prop up state budgets during the worst of the recession.

Courtney sees all of this from his front-row seat as a lawmaker in Congress, and he will be watching closely to see what the new leaders in the House of Representatives do with the federal budget moving forward. He does not expect any extension to the stimulus money, but says a major discussion of what to do about public health care dollars must occur.

“The immediate challenges are demographic, with an aging country. The weight of this issue will force Congress and future presidents [as well as the current one] to confront it,” Courtney says. Even the revamp he undertook 20 years ago in his own state needs a fresh scrub, he says. “We need a soup to nuts review of sorts.”

Impact Of Long Term Care
As for long term care’s role in the health care spectrum, Courtney says he is amazed at the advances made in both skilled and assisted living care, from the way buildings look to the type of care being provided these days.

“Nursing care is truly an untold story. It is one of the biggest job creators in our state. The upgrades to plants and facilities show the results of the grassroots effort to drive new approaches to improving the quality of life of seniors, and it is all being done in such a challenging environment,” Courtney says.

In addition to health care, Courtney’s main focus is on his committee assignments on the armed services and agriculture panels. It is from these posts that he will work for the interests of his district’s Groton Naval Base, shipbuilding concerns, and farming communities. He is especially concerned about Groton, which has faced what he calls “harrowing times” in the face of federal cuts to military outposts.

With the Republican takeover in the House after this past fall’s election, Courtney lost his assignment on the House Education and Labor Committee. He had been the first lawmaker from his district to sit on the committee since the World War II era.

Before serving in the House, Courtney represented Vernon in the Connecticut General Assembly from 1987 to 1994. Courtney was recognized in a legislative poll in 1994 by Connecticut Magazine for his bipartisan efforts and was named the “Most Conscientious” and the “Democrat Most Admired by Republicans.”

On a personal note, Courtney graduated from Tufts University in Boston and later earned a law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. He resides in Vernon with his wife, Audrey, and their two children, Robert and Elizabeth.