Connecticut Delays Switching HUSKY Beneficiaries To New Health Insurers

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Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell (R) announced on Thursday that she has postponed until February 2009 a mandatory switch for 345,000 low-income HUSKY beneficiaries to new insurers, the Hartford Courant reports. HUSKY is the state's Medicaid program (Keating, Hartford Courant, 10/24).

The state Department of Social Services since July has been trying to switch the beneficiaries, two-thirds of whom are children, but Aetna Better Health and AmeriChoice -- two of the new insurers that would cover the HUSKY beneficiaries -- have had difficulties in setting up adequate provider networks (O'Leary, New Haven Register, 10/23). Rell's administration proposed the switch as a way to encourage insurers to participate in the new Charter Oak Health Plan for adults (AP/New Haven Register, 10/23). However, providers are reluctant to participate in Charter Oak because they have said reimbursements are too low.

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Rell said that the delay in implementing the switch was prompted by the enrollment of an additional 8,000 HUSKY beneficiaries in the past five months, adding that the state wants to ensure "enrollees have sufficient access to medical care."

Prior to Rell's announcement, state House Majority Leader Christopher Donovan (D) said that Anthem Blue Cross, which has the current largest provider network, has 7,728 providers, while Aetna Better Health has 1,870 providers and AmeriChoice has 1,312. Kevin Lembo, the state health care advocate, and the New Haven Legal Assistance Association have said they would file lawsuits against the state if beneficiaries are switched to new insurers before there is an adequate network of providers (O'Leary, New Haven Register, 10/24).

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said if there were an inadequate number of providers, Rell's plan potentially could violate federal Medicaid law (AP/New Haven Register, 10/23). A CMS spokesperson on Thursday said that the plan would not be allowed to take effect if there was a less-than-adequate provider network (New Haven Register, 10/24).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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