Governor Malloy and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly have reached a deal on SustiNet that apparently retains the healthcare plan’s branded name but is much different from the original proposal.

As originally envisioned, SustiNet (HB 6305) would have created a first-in-the-nation health insurance public option, dramatically and expensively expanding government control over healthcare in Connecticut. (More about the original concept.)

Not any more, according to reports on the legislative deal. What is now called SustiNet will now be something akin to "Pooling-Lite." It will open the state employee health plan to cities, towns and nonprofits, but not to such groups as small private businesses, as did the original pooling proposal.

There is still sizable financial risk associated with expanding the self-insured state employee plan to different groups, but the fact that the private sector will not be involved in the revised SustiNet will reduce this risk measurably.

All said, the deal struck by Gov. Malloy and Democratic legislators and the changes made to the original SustiNet and Pooling (HB 6308) improve the plans enormously.

CBIA agrees with Governor Malloy, who when explaining his opposition to SustiNet, said that the state needs to focus on real health reform and work diligently towards implementing federal health reform changes. -- Eric George