Connecticut Legislation To Expand State Worker Insurance Poole Costs
ConnecticutAttorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) said legislation that would allowworkers at small businesses, municipalities and not-for-profit groups to jointhe state employee health insurance pool would preserve, and not change, theexisting contracts the state has with insurers, the Hartford Courant reports. Blumenthal was asked by state HouseMajority Leader Christopher Donovan (D) for his professional legal opinion onthe legislation (Levick, Hartford Courant, 5/27).
In a letter recently released by Gov. Jodi Rell (R), Anthem Blue Cross and BlueShield wrote that if the pool is expanded, the insurer would be forced toincrease premium rates for state employees by 4%, or by more than $24 million,in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Anthem President David Fusco said thecompany would have to "rescind the second- and third-year rate caps for2009 and 2010" that the state and company had agreed to under a three-yearbid to insure state employees. In a separate letter, ConnectiCare called on Rell to veto the bill, stating thatthe bill would have a negative impact on competition, put a burden on the stateand prevent municipalities from effectively controlling costs (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 5/21).
Blumenthal said the legislation would actually create a separate pool for smallbusinesses, municipalities and not-for-profits. The state would then receiveseparate rates for the additional pool for "equivalent" or"substantially the same" coverage as state employees, he said, addingthat the state could either negotiate rates with the same insurers or solicitnew bids. Neither option would increase costs for the state, Blumenthal said."The governor's concern [that the legislation would drive up costs] isunderstandable, but it's the product of scare tactics that are legallycompletely unfounded," Blumenthal said.
If no insurers are interested in serving the new pool, the legislation likelywill stall, he said. According to the Courant, it is unclear"whether the rates and benefit design in a new municipal/private employerpool would be any more or less attractive than under Connecticut's existing Municipal EmployeesHealth Insurance Program" (Hartford Courant, 5/27).
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