Pooling bill update

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First, the good news. The Attorney General has issued an opinion on HB-5536, House Majority Leader Donovan’s bill to allow municipalities, small businesses and nonprofits to buy into the state employee plan. His formal legal opinion is that the bill will not increase costs to the state, a concern that reportedly has the Governor considering vetoing the bill. The bad news is that the reason it won’t raise costs is because municipalities, small businesses and nonprofits can’t join the state employee pool, but must form completely separate pool. The separate pool must include the same rich benefit package as the state employee plan, which as the Courant points out, could price many municipalities, small businesses and nonprofits out of the new pool or discourage any insurers from offering the new plan. It is also unclear how this separate pool is different from the Comptroller’s MEHIP program which has been providing coverage to small businesses and nonprofits since 1996. The Comptroller’s office operates the state employee plan covering 200,000 state employees, retirees and dependents using that buying power to leverage lower rates for MEHIP members.
Ellen Andrews