New Canaan: Haskell all for health insurance public option
New Canaan: state Sen. Will Haskell (D-Westport) is advocating for legislation to create a public option for health insurance for Connecticut residents, working families and small businesses. Insurance and Real Estate Committee co-chairs, state Sen. Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) and state Rep. Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford), announced the legislation, saying Connecticut will benefit immensely from this common-sense policy, they said.
“This bill is about providing options within the health insurance marketplace,” said Sen. Haskell. “Small businesses in my district regularly urge me to take action to lower their health care costs, and this bill would do just that. The public option is an opportunity for employers and individuals alike to find affordable plans offering strong coverage. I am excited to co-sponsor this legislation that would change lives and save lives.”
“The rising cost of health insurance is killing the budgets of families and companies across our state and people are rightly looking to us for solutions,” said Rep. Scanlon. “The Connecticut Plan will give individuals, nonprofits and small businesses the option of the kind of quality and affordable health care plan they desperately need.”
“How much longer can we explain to the rest of Connecticut that we, as elected officials, are okay with enjoying our highest-quality health care, but unwilling to even allow them — small businesses, nonprofits and workers — to buy in to that same coverage or otherwise ensure quality affordable choices?” Comptroller Kevin Lembo said. “I will testify, advocate for and demand as many times as I must that we finally make things right by Connecticut workers and businesses. They deserve the same opportunities that we have to buy in to high-quality affordable health care.”
Senate Bill 346, An Act Concerning Public Options for Health Care in Connecticut, would give Connecticut residents an affordable, quality health insurance choice, a press release said. This choice would encourage healthy competition in the marketplace, leading to better prices and support for Connecticut consumers, it said. Small businesses would no longer have to choose between their bottom line and offering their hardworking employees health insurance, the release said. “A public option for health insurance is good for business, working families’ pocketbooks and the health of those in our state,” it said.
About Public Option Legislation: Per bill language, SB 346, An Act Concerning Public Options for Health Care in Connecticut, would accomplish the following:
• Establish the ConnectHealth Program, the ConnectHealth Trust Account and the ConnectHealth Advisory Board,
• Require the comptroller, in consultation with the ConnectHealth Advisory Board and the Office of Health Strategy, to establish the ConnectHealth Plan,
• Authorize the comptroller to offer coverage to plan participants and beneficiaries in this state under a multiemployer plan, nonprofit employers and their employees, and small employers and their employees, and:
• Require the commissioner of social services to seek to amend the federal waiver for the statewide dental plan that provides for the administration of the dental services portion of the department’s medical assistance to expand coverage to include additional individuals in this state.
The high cost of health insurance has burdened Connecticut working families and small businesses for far too long, the press release said. Premiums continue to rise, and deductibles have priced individuals out of receiving care, even if they have health insurance, it said. Making matters worse, prescription drug costs are outpacing inflation, according to the AARP. Connecticut needs relief and a public option for health insurance will provide said relief, the release said.
Last year, Sen. Lesser and Rep. Scanlon led the charge on similar legislation. Other states have attempted similar measures to bring down the high cost of care. Washington state passed a public option last year, and Virginia and Colorado have introduced public option bills, according to National Public Radio.