While Connecticut needs health care reform, a proposal known as “SustiNet” is no cure.

As originally drafted in HB-6600, the SustiNet plan creates a massive, government-run health care conglomerate that would expand state government control over health care in Connecticut.

Not fully explained in the bill is that SustiNet would be phenomenally expensive to operate, requiring millions in new funds to administer and billions in reserves for claims.

Last week, the bill was amended, ostensibly to study whether the plan makes sense for Connecticut. However, the “study” proposal is really a plan to race ahead and implement this unproven and unaffordable government takeover of health care.

It’s the classic case of the cart before the horse—and the wrong cart, at that.
This is just the kind of action taxpayers are asking lawmakers not to take in view of the recession and huge state budget deficit. According to a new survey, Connecticut residents want state lawmakers to spend fewer taxpayer dollars and make every dollar count—not go off on new spending binges like SustiNet.

An overwhelming majority of those surveyed (96%) said it is important for state government to focus on retaining jobs and strengthening the economy. Just 28% believe state government should expand into areas such as health insurance programs, as in HB-6600.

Even in a good year a plan such as SustiNet is unaffordable. But at a time when the state is facing a multibillion-dollar budget deficit and most taxpayers are being hit in some way by the recession, it’s also extraordinarily ill-timed.

It’s especially premature, too, in that HB-6600 has Connecticut shooting ahead before Congress and the Obama administration fully arrive at their own health care strategy later this year. People in Connecticut certainly need relief from rising health care costs and inferior medical care, but it would be far wiser to coordinate state efforts with the federal government, which has made national health care reform a top priority.

Meanwhile, it’s time to streamline and reduce the size of state government and reject costly proposals that will worsen the state’s already bloated deficit and put more stress on taxpayers.