Rolling Out Legislation to Reduce Healthcare Costs

May 23, 2019

Governor Lamont, Comptroller Lembo, and Legislative Leaders announced today that they have reached consensus on a proposal that will provide Connecticut residents more affordable, high-quality health care.

Under a new “Connecticut Option,” individuals and small businesses will have the choice of buying a new high-quality, high-value health care plan that could save them up to 20 percent in premiums. Consumer advocates and health care policy experts will assist the Office of Health Strategy (OHS) in designing the Connecticut Option, which insurance companies will be able to offer through their own provider networks or through a network developed by the Office of the State Comptroller. Offered alongside current high-quality plans on the exchange, Connecticut Option plans will leverage our incredible public agencies and one of the state’s leading industries to provide innovative alternatives tailor-made for our residents and employers.

The proposal also takes several steps to lower costs in the individual market. It provides additional financial assistance to low-income residents who qualify for federal subsidies and more middle-class residents who currently struggle with the high cost of health insurance. That assistance will be funded by restoring the responsibility fee on residents who can afford but choose not to purchase health insurance. The proposal also restores the reinsurance program that reduced premiums in the early years of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Similar programs in other states have reduced premiums by more than 10 percent. Finally, it increases competition in the market by requiring insurance companies that serve state employees to also provide cost-effective plans through the exchange.

In addition to improving the individual and small group markets, the proposal is designed to bring better care at a lower cost to all Connecticut residents by empowering the OHS to monitor health care spending growth, establish an annual cost growth benchmark, and recommend data-driven solutions to lower costs. That transparency and accountability will help curb price increases across health care providers, insurance carriers, pharmacy benefit managers, and drug and medical device manufacturers.

Under the proposal, Connecticut will join Vermont, Florida, and Colorado in petitioning the federal government for permission for the state to safely import prescription drugs from Canada at greatly reduced prices, upon federal approval.

Lastly, the proposal places a small tax on the prescription opioids that have fueled our current public health crisis. The revenue collected from that tax will help restore Medicaid coverage to several thousand of the parents who lost access to that vital program under the state’s last budget.

As a member of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, I was thrilled to share this exciting news about about efforts to reduce health care costs.

It has been our top-most priority to draft legislation that will give our residents a relief when it comes to the high costs of healthcare and prescription drugs.

Thank you to my colleagues for their tireless work.