Ignoring one of the worst budget crises in state history and an economy that keeps shedding jobs and businesses, state lawmakers this year approved three massive health care measures that will, incredibly, expand state government and drive costs higher.

None of the three measures will help increase access to health insurance or the quality of health care in Connecticut. Fewer people, in fact, will be able to afford health care if they become law.

CBIA is urging Gov. Rell to veto HB-6582 (health care pooling), HB-6600 (the SustiNet plan) and HB-5021 (containing several mandates) because they ignore the fact that Connecticut’s already damaged economy can’t afford them.

Despite the state’s chronically poor track record in health care, HB-6582 and HB-6600 will significantly increase the role of state government in the design, purchase and distribution of health insurance in Connecticut. And HB-5021 adds to the mountain of cost-driving government mandates in health care insurance.

And despite what the bills’ proponents say, bigger government does not mean better or less costly health care, nor does it mean that more people will be able to afford coverage.

HB-6582 allows small businesses and other groups to enter the very expensive state employee health plan. The plan would not include government safeguards for consumers, nor would the risky self-insured system have adequate reserves to pay claims.

The bill exempts itself from all of Connecticut’s beneficial health insurance rules and regulations – including those that have protected small companies from enormous rate spikes year after year.

What’s more, under the self-insured system envisioned by HB-6582, taxpayers would have to pay the medical claims of everyone in the program—despite the fact that the state hasn’t set aside money to pay these claims, which would require at least hundreds of millions of unbudgeted dollars.

The SustiNet bill (HB-6600) sets in motion a government-run health care monolith without accounting for the necessary funding that, like the pooling proposal, will put the state’s taxpayers at great financial risk. That’s because SustiNet also would be a self-insured system. What’s more, there is no assurance that SustiNet would be at all effective in controlling health care costs or improving quality.

Both of these plans also mean that Connecticut is getting ahead of itself. With federal health care reform on the horizon, no one knows if these state self-insured plans will actually work under new federal rules.

Lawmakers also passed nearly a dozen new or expanded health benefit mandates – six rolled into one mega-mandate bill (HB-5021). Each one adds to the already astronomical cost of insurance for all fully insured groups (mostly small businesses).