Bill Requiring Legislative Approval of Access Health Fees Moves Forward
The General Assembly’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee has approved SB 544, a bill requiring legislative approval for any fee hikes proposed by the state-run health insurance exchange, Access Health CT.
The bill, which now goes to the Senate, puts checks and balances on Access Health’s power to charge assessments.
Currently, Access Health can increase assessment fees with a simple majority vote of its board of directors, led by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and comprising private individuals and state agency heads.
Access Heath charges an assessment to all smaller employers and individuals—regardless of whether they use the exchange.
The assessment—set at 1.65% of premium—is passed on to the entire small group and individual marketplace throughout Connecticut in the form of higher premiums.
It comes to about $275 a year for a family of four.
The concern behind the legislation is that Access Health has the power to increase the assessment with no oversight, just a vote of its board.
This new procedure requires the board to come to an elected body—such as the legislature’s Insurance Committee—for approval of any increase before it can be adopted.
CBIA endorses this approach because it incorporates appropriate checks and balances.
Helping employees pay for quality health insurance is a priority for employers. It’s why addressing healthcare cost drivers should be a top priority for lawmakers.
True Cost of Mandates
The Insurance Committee also passed HB 7042, which gives the committee the information it needs to consider new health benefit mandates, including long-term cost and benefits.
Currently, legislators don’t have such an analysis when they vote on new mandates.
Access Heath charges assessments on all smaller employers and individuals—regardless of whether they use the state-run exchange.
But what's missing are details of the costs associated with the mandate.
CBIA applauds the committee for its actions on SB 544 and HB 7042.
Concern Over Prescription Bill
CBIA has concerns with SB 925, which addresses the cost of prescription drugs and valued-based insurance design.
CBIA is a supportive partner in the Connecticut’s State Innovation Model and, specifically, its Value Based Insurance Design initiative.
We have worked with the SIM team to make connections within our membership, including large and small employers.
We also spent time with SIM staff discussing healthcare policy and outreach to our members.
CBIA supports aspects of SIM and VBID because our members want to be part of innovative solutions to help lower healthcare cost and improve quality.
We have, however, consistently emphasized that VBID should be a voluntary initiative—not mandated.
We urge the committee not to impede progress made by the SIM office with a mandate.
CBIA also opposes mandating specific standards for prescription drug contracts and pricing included in this bill.
While our members agree healthcare costs are a major concern we urge the committee to be mindful of the impact of federal policy and its current state of uncertainty.
Federal uncertainty makes it challenging to set state policy. It’s important that state policy decisions take into account all the complex aspects of healthcare and should not be approached in a piecemeal fashion.
Since the taskforce created to address this issue did not have the opportunity to share recommendations with this committee, CBIA feels it prudent to use that process before adopting new requirements.
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