When the national health care debate began earlier this year, it seemed likely that Congress and the Obama Administration would adopt some form of health care reform that could ultimately lead to a government-run system. The most notable, so-called “public option” proposal would put federal government-administered health care programs squarely in competition with the private sector.

But the massive swell of opposition voiced at countless town hall meetings around the country has fueled significant doubt about the public option ever becoming law at the national level.

It's an outcry that should be heard and heeded in Connecticut as the state starts driving toward a much larger role for state government in health care--adopted in this year's “SustiNet” health care legislation.

Even President Obama himself, an outspoken supporter of the “public option,” has said that the public option is only one part of health care reform and “whether we have it or we don't have it, [it] is not the entirety of health care reform.”

His comments have given supporters of private-sector health care reform some reason for optimism. Most in the business community believe the public-option and other forms of government-run health care would be much more damaging than beneficial to America 's health care.

One major reason is the woeful track record of federal and state government in underfunding doctors and hospitals for medical care. In fact, the state of Connecticut shortchanges hospitals as much as 35%, forcing these institutions to increase how much they charge the private sector. This cost-shifting effectively makes private insurance more expensive and less accessible for everyone.

CBIA has long cautioned state lawmakers that this cost-shifting will only increase if either the state or the federal government moves towards government-run health care.

Still, the controversial “SustiNet” bill begins a process that could lead to a much larger role for state government in health care. A newly formed SustiNet Board of Directors has its first meeting on Wednesday, September 2, 2009 to kick off this effort.

Congress is likely to take a much longer look at government-run health care and perhaps opt for reform that will truly improve our system by lowering costs, improving quality and thereby increasing access. This is the type of reform that people really want and need, and Connecticut should pursue.