One of the many lessons learned from the recent passage of health care reform in Congress seems to be playing out right here in Connecticut. The lesson? When it comes to proposed legislation, lawmakers will turn a deaf ear to opposition if they have the sheer political will.
President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats refused to reconsider their push for health care reform and start over, despite the myriad town hall meetings, public opinion surveys, and even a high-profile Senate election that clearly showed that Americans wanted them to slow down and restart the debate.
Following a similar trajectory in Connecticut, state lawmakers are plowing forward with legislation that will actually increase the cost of health insurance--despite strong opposition from the business community and other groups. In fact, the legislature is considering nearly 20 such health care cost-drivers this session, contained in about a dozen bills.
One of these proposals, HB-5009, incorporates seven cost-driving measures into one piece of legislation. Most of these measures are in the form of health insurance mandates--each of which drives up the cost of health insurance (especially for small businesses) and makes it harder for companies to offer coverage to their employees.
In fact, the Council for Affordable Health Insurance estimates that over half of a small business’s health care premium dollars potentially go toward paying for these mandates. But it’s not just mandates that could drive up health care costs this year.
Lawmakers also are considering a proposal to tax the gross earnings of hospitals to the tune of almost 3.5%. This tax (which in theory would be partially reimbursed to the institutions but in reality would go into the state’s General Fund) would be directly passed onto health care consumers--and businesses make up one of the biggest segments of all health care consumers.