Public option programs—health insurance programs administered by the state—are a top priority on the Democrats' healthcare agenda this legislative session.

With deadlines approaching, three legislative committees—Insurance and Real Estate, Labor and Public Employees, and Human Services—advanced three different public option proposals.

The Insurance and Real Estate Committee advanced SB 134 and HB 7267, which contain verbatim legislative language.

The committee's proposal allows small businesses to purchase health insurance for employees through the state employee program, which according to recently released figures, operated at a deficit last year.

These bills also create an insurance fund and an advisory committee to explore state subsidized cost-sharing and sliding scale premium costs.

The Labor and Public Employees Committee voted out SB 1004, which also allows small businesses to purchase state employee insurance, but without the administrative changes proposed in SB 134 and HB 7267.

Medicaid Expansion

Meanwhile, the Human Services Committee advanced HB 7339, which creates a working group to study the expansion of the state's Medicaid program, allowing those who are currently ineligible for such benefits to purchase Medicaid coverage.

The working group under this proposal is also charged with exploring cost-sharing subsidies.

Public health insurance options have the potential to increase the cost of insurance by destabilizing risk pools, raising taxes by requiring taxpayers to subsidize the program if it becomes insolvent, and negatively impact the state's economy by threatening one of Connecticut's key economic drivers.

CBIA strongly opposes these bills.

For more information, contact CBIA's Michelle Rakebrand (860.244.1921) | @MRakebrand