Healthcare Reform for Connecticut

June 10, 2019

One of my top priorities this year was to reduce health-care costs and find innovative ways to improve the quality of health care for the people of Vernon.

To accomplish that goal, legislation was written by borrowing innovative ideas from the federal Affordable Care Act and plans other states developed, while also incorporating the best thinking of our leaders in the health-care field right here in Connecticut.

After many hours of hard work, my colleagues and I have passed House Bill 7267, which takes a comprehensive and systematic approach to health care and its soaring costs. The directives and policies in this legislation will significantly increase access to care and create a more sustainable, high-value health care system in the future.

Reducing Individual Market Costs:

The legislation establishes a state-level reinsurance program for reducing premium costs and replaces the federal health-care program Republicans allowed to expire the end of 2017.

Reinsurance is a well-established industry system that creates a pool to pay high-cost claims, allowing insurers to reduce risk and lower premiums. The program is funded through a small assessment on health insurance plans in the state. That assessment is expected to raise $20 million a year, less than was assessed under the Affordable Care Act.

The program should allow the state to receive more than $25 million in federal investments. Recent analysis indicates that such a program could reduce premiums by about 5 percent.

Lowering Prescription Drug Costs:

Average brand prescription drug costs in Canada are roughly half that of the United States. The bill establishes a program to allow for the safe importation of prescription drugs directly from Canada, which will result in significantly lower prices.

The Departments of Consumer Protection and Public Health will be required to ensure the safety of any drugs imported through the program. Like similar programs in Vermont, Florida and Colorado, the program will need federal approval.

Reducing Total Health Care Costs:

For decades the growth in health care costs has exceeded the growth of the overall state economy. To begin containing costs in our state, the bill establishes an annual Health Care Cost Growth Benchmark in order to understand how much health care costs can grow across the entire state each year, beginning in 2021.

Each year the Office of Health Strategy will evaluate the state’s performance against the Benchmark and identify the primary contributors to the growth in health care cost. Public hearings will be held to discuss factors contributing growing costs.