Positive active purchasing hearing

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Fifteen of the nineteen testimonies for yesterday’s Insurance Committee public hearing on SB-596 were in favor of active purchasing. Proponents included the State Comptroller, State Health Care Advocate, small business and community groups, brokers, labor, patient safety, legal aid, consumer and faith-based groups. Opponents included CBIA, the HMO Association, NFIB, and the Exchange staff. The CT Health Insurance Exchange Board and staff have rejected negotiating premiums with plans to keep costs affordable. MA’s exchange has saved consumers millions through negotiation. Utah’s exchange does not negotiate, taking any willing insurer, and premiums inside the exchange are higher than outside. Committee members asked great questions about how much consumers could save, states that are making it work, operational questions, health cost drivers and solutions, philosophical questions about the role of government, and impact on the rest of the market. The committee was especially interested that CA is planning to negotiate rates with their plans and have received 30 letters of intent from plans, countering the concern that plans would not apply. Committee members were also interested in research on how much choice is optimal for consumers before it becomes overwhelming and counter-productive.