Administration opposition to HB-5617, Charter Oak fix bill

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Testimony from Governor Rell, DSS Commissioner Starkowski, OHCA Commissioner Vogel, OPM Secretary Genuario, and DPH Commissioner Galvin in the Human Services Committee’s public hearing Tuesday strongly opposed any changes to their plans for Charter Oak. Attorney General Blumenthal, State Health Care Advocate Lembo and fourteen consumers and advocates, including this one, testified in favor of the bill.

Calling the bill “oxymoronic”, the Governor cites several consumer emails to her office opposing provisions of HB-5617. However, she does not cite other emails received by her office, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, citing exactly the problems HB-5617 is designed to address. A few examples:

“I read, with excitement and hope about Governor Rell’s health care proposal yet have one concern. The stipulation that a person has to be uninsured for a minimum of 6 months to qualify for the Charter Oak Plan. I find that extremely unfair and risky. . . . I took on a second job because the cost of insuring myself is so unreachable I need additional income to pay the premium each month. . . . Now, to hear that people like me will be required to go without that safety net for 6 months to get the Governor’s proposed insurance coverage, seems terribly financially risky. . . . To take that chance and potentially bankrupt me and my family? Seems crazy to me.”

“I am very much in favor of the Charter Oak Health Plan for the uninsured populations of CT. I am concerned, however, over the 6-month wait period which means a person must go without insurance for 6 months before they can go into the plan. Six months is a long time to go without insurance. One could very well go bankrupt during that period if something medically detrimental happened.”

“I applaud your effort to secure low-cost health care coverage for the quarter-million uninsured Connecticut residents. However, low-cost is a pretty relative term, I’ve found! To expect a family earning $24,000 annually to pay $3,000 for health-care coverage is pretty unrealistic, as that segment (my segment!) of the population is already stretched to the very limit . . . $250 a month might seem a pittance to somebody in a higher tax bracket, but let me assure you, it might as well be $2500 a month to somebody netting less than $2,000 a month; it’s just out of reach.”

“I read your [health insurance] proposal with great interest and hope. I am concerned though, that I think you are missing some key points. . . Your plan goes a long way in addressing that problem [of the uninsured] but it leaves out those of us who have taken the responsibility of providing coverage for our families. . . . I know in my heart that I am that I am doing the right thing, being responsible and not becoming a burden to the state. I need the state to do what is responsible. . . To help the uninsured is fine, but what are we supposed to do who have maintained coverage?”
Ellen Andrews