Connecticut Unveils Ambitious State Health Care Overhaul Proposal
The Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut "is about to launch the most ambitious proposal yet for health care reform" in the state, a proposal that "promises to raise a lively debate in the legislative session that starts Jan. 7," the Hartford Courant reports.
Under the proposal, the state employees' health plan would be greatly expanded over six years, making it available to individuals, not-for-profit groups, municipalities, small employers and eventually to any size employers. The plan would include state health programs, such as Medicaid and the state's HUSKY health plan. The "mammoth" pool is to help the 326,000 uninsured state residents, those with "skimpy" insurance or people who cannot afford their employer's coverage, the Courant reports. Janet Davenport, vice president for communications for UHCFC, said the pool's premiums, copayments and deductibles would be on a sliding scale based on enrollees' income.
The plan calls for increased use of electronic health records and an emphasis on preventive care, management of chronic conditions and better coordination of care between physicians and other care providers.
Experts from the Urban Institute and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working with the foundation to determine the cost of the proposal but the foundation has not said who will pay for it. However, UHCFC officials said that taxpayers will pay for at least part of the plan. Further details, including costs, will be released by the foundation at an event on Jan. 13, 2009.
Juan Figueroa, president of UHCFC, said, "Health care is a major piece of infrastructure for our economy," adding, "You can't fix the economy without fixing health care." He said that states should not wait for federal reform, adding, "Connecticut cannot sit on the sidelines on this issue. The fact that we're known as the insurance capitol in the country, whatever we say or do ... ought to be part of what gets factored into the national debate."
Keith Stover, a lobbyist for the Connecticut Association of Health Plans, said that insurers "are looking forward to working with anybody who has any ideas on reform," but warned that expanding the pool does not necessarily mean lowering health care costs (Levick, Hartford Courant, 12/9).
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