Health care reform hearings

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Despite the weather, the Human Services, Public Health and Insurance committees heard several health reform bills yesterday. The two that drew the most attention were HB-6582, creating the Healthcare Partnership, and HB-6600, creating the SustiNet plan.

The Speaker’s Healthcare Partnership bill was heard first. This bill reflects a similar bill passed last year, pooling the state employee health plan with municipalities and eventually small businesses, nonprofits and CT’s uninsured. The bill passed both houses but was vetoed by the Governor. This year nonprofits, small businesses and the uninsured are not included and the bill moves the merged plan to self-insurance. Self insurance means that the state would accept all risk for the health costs of the population, rather than paying a capitated rate to managed care plans as we do now. Self insuring should give the state one-time savings of $60 to 145 million. Most states self insure their state employee plans. Proponents also suggest that cities and towns could save money by pooling with state employees. Participation would be voluntary for municipalities – if they don’t save money, they don’t have to join. Most testimony was favorable.

Going last on the agenda actually worked for the SustiNet bill as the weather had cleared and the hearing was well attended. Dozens of speakers testified in favor of the bill including small business owners, clergy, advocates, consumers and providers. A couple of speakers argued against the provision giving malpractice liability relief to providers in certain circumstances where they appropriately followed evidence-based medical standards. The provision is intended to improve adherence to the best available clinical standards of care, reducing poor health outcomes and improving quality.
Ellen Andrews