On Wednesday, the Senate voted 29 to 4 to pass SB-416, An Act Promoting Competition in Contracts Between Health Carriers and Health Providers, without amendments. The bill passed out of the insurance committee unanimously and received overwhelmingly positive feedback in the public hearing. Two lawsuits have been filed against Hartford Healthcare for anti-competitive conduct, driving up premiums across the state. A legislative forum last September included experts on the impact of consolidation and other concerns.
One of the main drivers of Connecticut’s rising healthcare costs is consolidation in the healthcare market, driving prices 20 to 47% higher, making health coverage increasingly unaffordable for consumers, government, and businesses. SB-416 prohibits anti-competitive contract clauses, leveling the playing field, lowering prices, and making healthcare affordable.
Amendments that were considered would have negated the entire bill. Proposals included exempting Accountable Care Organizations and any systems with value-based-purchasing contracts. All the large health systems have both of these features and so, would be exempt from the law. Another proposed amendment would have exempted small practices. Small practices that are affiliated with large health systems are paid much higher health system rates, so are not struggling financially. Must-have specialists are often in small, affiliated practices that can serve as an anchor for anti-competitive clauses to keep prices high. If added, this also would have negated the law.
After discussion with the CT Insurance Department about enforcement, the fiscal note for the bill is minimal.
The bill is now on the House calendar and hopefully will pass there to make healthcare affordable in Connecticut, again overwhelmingly and without amendments.