Testimony supporting Governor’s drug price cap and opposing OHS primary care plan

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The Insurance and Real Estate Committee is hearing today the Governor’s healthcare bills. Areas of disagreement include a proposal to limit how much drug prices can rise and the Office of Health Strategy’s (OHS) plans to cap the growth of overall healthcare spending while doubling spending on primary care.

Among non-state agencies, fifteen people and organizations submitted testimony in opposition to OHS’s Cost Cap and primary care Roadmap. Nine organizations submitted testimony in favor – eight of the organizations are hospitals and the CT insurers association.

The CT Health Policy Project testified in favor of limiting the growth of drug prices. Drug prices are the fastest growing segment of rising healthcare prices. The proposal allows for increases of 2% over general inflation – a generous standard well over the level other businesses are managing within and allows plenty of room for innovation. Twenty five independent consumer organizations drafted a letter to legislative leaders asking them to drop the Roadmap.

We also testified in opposition to OHS’s primary care Roadmap. We are concerned that doubling spending on primary care while limiting overall healthcare spending will lead to cuts in other critical care. Those cuts will fall hardest on seniors, people with chronic conditions, people with disabilities, and underserved communities. Doubling primary care spending would cost CT an extra $3.9 billion/year by 2025 when fully implemented. There has been no foundation of evidence or public process to decide whether to shift this large amount of resources to primary care, as opposed to other areas of need, particularly mental health and substance abuse treatment. While there is always room for improvement, Connecticut residents have better access to primary care than most Americans. The process to develop the Roadmap was dominated by primary care physicians and the Roadmap’s first goal is to increase their incomes. The Roadmap pushes practices into capitation, a failed payment model with serious risks to patients’ health and is likely to further consolidate our state’s healthcare market causing higher prices. While capitation is voluntary for practices, it is not voluntary for patients.

Update: March 10th the Insurance committee voted both bills favorably out of committee.