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The legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee has raised SB-596, An Act Concerning the Duties of the CT Health Insurance Exchange, and will hold a public hearing on the bill Thursday. SB-596 requires the CT Health Insurance Exchange to actively purchase health coverage for the estimated one in ten state residents who will purchase health insurance there. The bill directs the exchange to negotiate premiums with insurers to keep insurance affordable for the individuals and small businesses. Starting next year, every state resident will be required to have health coverage. Federal affordability subsidies will only be available for insurance purchased through the exchange, creating a large, new, captive, and lucrative market for insurance companies. The exchange Board and staff have rejected active purchasing, claiming it would be “too adversarial” toward insurance companies. Active purchasing has kept premium costs under control in other states. MA’s exchange negotiates premiums with insurers and has kept the rise in premiums to half what is it outside the exchange. In contrast, Utah’s exchange does not negotiate premiums and premiums inside the exchange are higher than outside. Advocates have called for CT’s exchange to actively purchase coverage on behalf of consumers. The public hearing on SB-596 will be this Thursday, January 31st at 1:00pm in Room 2D of the Legislative Office Building. Sign up begins at 11am in Room 2800 of the LOB, where you can deliver 30 copies of written testimony for distribution to committee members.