A common theme runs through every discussion about health care reform in Connecticut: If we could just lower health care costs, more residents would have access to health insurance.

While state lawmakers echo these concerns, their actions tell a different story.

In fact, they are poised to take steps that actually would increase the cost of health care by making insurance less affordable.

Already more than a dozen health benefit mandates—which threaten to drive up the cost of insurance—have been approved by legislative committees. These government mandates require that health insurance companies cover additional procedures and treatments. Over time, when mandates pile up (as they have in Connecticut), they become one of leading factors in making health care more expensive.

Considering that Connecticut has already approved a mountain of special-coverage health care mandates, it’s easy to understand why health care costs here are among the highest in the U.S.

Nevertheless, the General Assembly last year passed three more expanded or new health care mandates, adding to the more than 60 special medical procedures and treatments that must be covered by health insurance providers in Connecticut.

Somehow, while the financial impact of mandates is often forgotten or dismissed by lawmakers, the hand-wringing over the high costs of health care goes on in health care debates across the state.

Getting serious about reducing health care costs must mean dealing with the factors that are drive up costs—especially those that lawmakers can control, such as government-imposed coverage mandates.

Although the mandates lawmakers are considering this year will help some Connecticut residents, they will make health insurance less affordable, and therefore less accessible, for many more.

It’s time for lawmakers to make the connection: Holding the line on expensive mandates will help control health care costs and increase accessibility. Enacting a moratorium on new mandates in Connecticut would be a good start to help contain costs and make it easier for all companies and individuals to afford health insurance for their employees.

CBIA strongly encourages lawmakers to consider the full costs of mandates and refrain from approving more.