June 24, 2012
"WE HAVE TO FIND OUR OWN WAY"
by Paul Bass & Nicolás Medina Mora Pérez - NH Independent
On the eve of a monumental U.S. Supreme Court ruling, New Haven State Rep. Pat Dillon was running for reelection—and detailing some of the work she’d like to do if Connecticut needs to pick up the pieces of a fractured health reform law.
Dillon spoke at a fundraiser Sunday afternoon for her campaign for a 15th two-year term representing the 92nd State General Assembly District, which covers much of New Haven’s Westville and Edgewood neighborhoods.
During her 28 years at the Capitol Dillon has focused particular attention on health care. She might be called to do so again in an upcoming session (at this point she has neither primary nor general election opponent) if the U.S. Supreme Court this coming week (either Monday or Friday) strikes down some or all of President Obama’s health reform law.
In particular, Connecticut will suddenly lose promised federal money to enable another estimated 130,000 adults to get health coverage under Medicaid. Individuals will no longer face a requirement (“mandate”) that they buy health insurance, in order to pay for some of the reform law’s new coverage. Two other potentially endangered new rules: that insurance companies no longer deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions; and that they allow people 26 or younger to remain on their parents’ plans.
If the court does strike down the law, Dillon said, she’d like to see the legislature reinstitute the mandate. She argued that’s fair to companies that now “do the right thing” by offering ample insurance to employees but then suffer in the marketplace when other companies don’t fork out that money. (Click on the play arrowto watch her discuss that question.)
She’d also like to see the legislature find ways to insure the people who’d lose their new insurance lifelines if Obamacare gets struck down, she said, including young adults on their families’ plans and, especially, women over 50 who disproportionately end up uninsured or underinsured because of divorce, preexisting conditions, gender discrimination in insurance coverage, among other reasons.
Connecticut probably won’t have the leverage Massachusetts had in passing a universal coverage law, Dillon said. Then-U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy was able to secure federal money to cover much of the new cost in that state.
“I think we have to find our own way,” she said.
Health care was also on the minds of two other candidates seeking support in New Haven a day earlier.
She added that the way forward is to switch the focus from what she called “insurance reform” to true health care reform—which should pay more attention to prevention and to cutting the costs of medicine.
Chris Murphy arrived late, which spared both candidates an awkward handshake.
Asked for specifics, both candidates insisted that they can’t take a nuanced position until they know which if any of the bill’s provisions are declared unconstitutional.