Connecticut House Approves Two Health Insurance Pooling Bills
The Connecticut House on Wednesday approved two separate measures to expand health insurance pooling in the state, the Hartford Courant reports. The first measure would create a public health insurance pool open to all residents. The pool, intended to compete with rather than replace private insurance, would be based on the existing pool for state workers (Keating, Hartford Courant, 5/21). The bill will create a nine-member board of directors to investigate and recommend a plan to guarantee every resident health insurance. The bill also creates four committees that will work with the board and provide advice on electronic health records, medical homes, clinical care guidelines and preventive care. In addition, three task forces will examine obesity, tobacco use and care provider shortages (Stuart, CT News Junkie, 5/20).
The cost of plan, known as SustiNet, could be a "sticking point" given the state's $8.7 billion budget deficit over the next two years, the Courant reports The state Senate and Gov. Jodi Rell (R) will consider the plan next.
The second measure would allow local governments, small businesses and not-for-profit groups join the state employee insurance plan. The bill would increase the current pool's membership from 200,000 to an estimated 300,000.
Juan Figueroa, a former state legislator and president of the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, said, "Both of these plans reduce costs and increase choice. The partnership (pooling) bill has features that SustiNet can build on. The two bills fit hand in glove." Democrats said the second bill would utilize economies of scale to lower costs. Steve Fontana (D), co-chair of the State House Insurance and Real Estate Committee, said, "The larger the pool you have, ... you reduce the volatility and the risk associated with that pool."
Opponents say the pooling measure would affect only those who already have coverage. According to House Republican Leader Larry Cafero, "This bill does not solve that problem. If you don't have it now, you're not going to have it because of this" (Keating, Hartford Courant, 5/21).