Health Care a Focus for 2019 Legislative Session

The 2019 Connecticut legislative session opened on January 9 and health care proposals are beginning to take shape in the legislature’s committees. Many ideas are still undeveloped. Priorities for government-funded programs such as Medicaid will depend on Governor Lamont’s budget proposals, which will be announced on February 20. But there is significant interest in taking action to reduce the costs of private health insurance. Concepts that have emerged to date:

*exploring a public health insurance option to be marketed through Access Health CT. Often referred to as a “public option”, this generally means a government-run health insurance program that competes with private insurance programs. The expectation is that a government-run insurance program would be able to offer less expensive options to consumers. Two bills promoting this concept have been introduced (PHB 5722, introduced by Speaker of the House Aresimowicz and PSB 32, introduced by Senate President Martin Looney). At its January 24th meeting, the Insurance and Real Estate Committee raised a concept bill to ensure discussion of the idea this session.
* opening the state employee health care plans to small businesses to provide a more affordable alternative to these small groups. PSB 134 was introduced by Sen. Christine Cohen.
* applying for a federal waiver to establish a state reinsurance program. Reinsurance programs can reimburse insurers for the costs associated with some high-cost enrollees and thereby stabilize premium costs. Sen. Kevin Kelly has introduced PSB 136 to require Connecticut to apply for such a waiver.

All these ideas are in the early stages of development but their emergence at the beginning of the session demonstrates an interest in addressing the high cost of health care coverage. Some further discussion available in this article from CTNewsJunkie.

Jane McNichol