As the 2019 General Assembly got underway in January, the Insurance and Real Estate Committee vowed to reduce the cost of health insurance for individuals and small businesses.

However, the proposals the committee put forward during the General Assembly session did little to reflect that promise.

Mandates

Mandates directly increase the cost of health insurance because they require the insurance carriers to cover additional medical benefits.

The carriers, in turn, pass those costs on to individuals and small businesses.

This year, the committee proposed nearly 30 healthcare mandates, in addition to the 66 that are already codified in statute, the most of any state. (It's no coincidence that healthcare costs in Connecticut are among the highest in the country.)

Despite strong efforts by advocates, all but three of the healthcare mandate bills failed, helping control health insurance premium costs for another year.

Public Option

While mandates are an annual threat to healthcare costs, the push for state-run healthcare gained substantial traction throughout the session.

There were seven public option-related proposals before the General Assembly, led by the two primary vehicles, HB 7267 and SB 134.

Both bills contained verbatim language allowing the state comptroller to expand the current state employee municipal partnership plan to small businesses.

The state-run healthcare program for cities and towns lost over $10 million last year.

CBIA strongly opposed this proposal as it would not reduce the cost of health insurance for small businesses.

The state-run program for cities and towns lost over $10 million last year, with a medical loss ratio—the percent of premiums spent on claims and expenses—of 107%.

Pivot

With just one week remaining in the session, advocates for state-run healthcare pivoted to a more sweeping proposal.

That proposal included an individual mandate, cost containment board, Medicaid expansion, a drug importation program, and new surcharges on insurance premiums.

It dropped expanding the state employee plan, instead creating a state-run healthcare plan—a so-called Connecticut Option—open to individuals and small businesses that do not have employer provided coverage.

While it passed the state House, the revised plan died when the Senate failed to act before the legislative session's June 5 deadline.


For more information, contact CBIA's Michelle Rakebrand (860.244.1926) | @MRakebrand