There’s good news and bad news for the patient: The legislature’s Public Health Committee wrapped up its regular business for the 2009 session by approving several bills that could have a genuinely positive effect on health care reform in Connecticut.

On the other hand, the committee also approved a proposal that would establish and burden Connecticut with a massive government-run health insurance system, a plan for a costly single-payer, state-administered health care system.

This latter proposal contains some positive health care reform measures, and CBIA is hopeful that lawmakers ultimately will move forward only on the positive proposals.

Positive health care
The committee approved several bills squarely focused on increasing access to health care by reducing costs and improving quality. These bills include:

  • SB-678—establishes a cost-containment authority to review ways to reduce the costs of health care. Cost is the primary reason individuals and companies elect not to purchase health insurance. Addressing the core cost drivers is the best way to increase access for all.
  • SB-782 — reduces costs and improves the quality of health care by developing Connecticut’s electronic medical records system. An improvement over our antiquated paper medical records system, this modernized system of health information technology will allow doctors to instantaneously access patient information, reducing medical errors and duplications.
  • HB-6675 — uses federal stimulus dollars to improve the health care system and increase access to health insurance. CBIA strongly encourages lawmakers to focus these dollars on increasing Connecticut’s woeful Medicaid reimbursement rates and therefore stop the incessant cost shift from the public sector to the private sector.

Both good and bad
The committee also approved a bill that has both positive and negative components to it: HB-6600 creates a massive, government-run health care conglomerate and charges many employers a fee to pay for the new system.

On the other hand, the proposal also contains reforms aimed at promoting care coordination, improved technology, incentives for better health status, preventive care, and data compilation and transparency.

CBIA urges lawmakers to enact only these positive reforms and set aside the misguided ones.

Increasing costs
The committee approved yet another health benefit mandate. HB-6540 will increase costs and reduce flexibility for businesses, particularly small businesses, by requiring that health insurance policies cover an additional mandate.

Overall, CBIA is very encouraged by the committee’s work and looks forward to working with lawmakers to improve Connecticut’s health care system so that all residents have access to affordable, quality health care.