Talk at the Capitol this year has been about reducing healthcare costs in Connecticut, but the final tally of the Insurance Committee shows a different story: Approval of many more proposals that will increase costs rather than decrease them, especially for small businesses.

To its credit, the committee did reject one measure that would have been very costly to healthcare consumers—and members who helped defeat that measure should be congratulated.

But the committee ultimately approved several new or expanded health insurance mandates that will be a slap to small businesses struggling to keep affording healthcare benefits for their employees.

Mandates require fully insured health plans to provide coverage for certain services. While this may seem harmless, it’s actually very costly--because with each new mandate (or when an existing mandate is expanded), the cost of a policy required to provide that coverage goes up—and small businesses are the ones unfairly impacted.

Small employers, who can’t take on the risk of self-insuring, generally purchase fully insured plans. And only those plans are required to comply with state mandates.

Among the new mandates the committee passed are those requiring coverage for bone marrow testing (HB 5032), ostomy supplies (HB 6472), breast MRIs (SB 10), clinical trials (SB 21), specialized formula (SB 312), and prostate screening and treatment (SB 396).

The committee, however, defeated a "mega-mandate" bill (SB 17), which lumped more than a half-dozen mandates into a single proposal.

Other cost-driving proposals the committee approved include cost-shifting efforts disguised und

er the veil of prohibiting certain copayments; and major, government-run healthcare schemes.

The committee approved cost-drivers that prohibit (or limit) copayments for certain health services. That means more costs will be shifted onto all other healthcare consumers. This year’s cost-shifting proposals deal with copayments for preventive care services (SB 12) and certain drugs (SB 13).

Also approved were two bills that would subject the state, its companies and its residents to risk

Urge legislators to reject government-run healthcare.

y government-run healthcare schemes. The first, known as SustiNet (HB 6305), would create a self-insured state

 public option that would eventually be open to anyone and everyone in the state. And, since it would have to pay all the medical claims of its participants, taxpayers (through the state's General Fund) would be at risk for the financial impact.

The committee also approved a smaller version of SustiNet known as "pooling" (HB 6308). The major difference is that pooling is focused only on small companies and only offers the expensive state employee plan.

While the committee has approved these measures, there is still a long way to go before they become law. CBIA continues to urge legislators to reject these proposals as too costly for Connecticut.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric George at 860.244.1921 or eric.george@cbia.com.