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Agreement Made to Improve the Rate Review Process for Health Insurance

August 2, 2011

It was looking very dismal for CT’s health care reform this legislative session when Governor Dannel Malloy allowed the partnership bill, HB:6308 to pass without his signature and vetoed SB:11, addressing the rate review process for certain insurance premiums. This was suppose to be the year of health care reform with the majority of Democrats in the Senate, House and the Administration that ran campaigns supporting health care reforms.  Health care policy was looking to move forward in cost maintenance and coverage expansion for the people of Connecticut.  The way it turned out, CT residents might have been better armed with a Republican Governor as they would know what to expect from health insurance lobbyists.

The partnership bill has been debated for years as the right thing to do for Connecticut, as it pools municipalities and other groups to gain lower costs, not only for individuals but for the state as well.  Since the partnership bill saved cents and made sense, it was enacted and it prepares the state to plan for the federally mandated insurance exchange by 2014.

The insurance rate review process has been under the microscope as the high rates of insurance premiums escalated 20-47% even in the current economic downturn. At the same time, profit margins and CEO bonus pay continued to rise in the insurance industry. However, bills introduced in CT Legislature to improve the transparency of the rate review process failed.  This year the bill passed unanimously in the Senate and a wide margin in the House only to become vetoed by Governor Malloy (see previous posting for his response) and not overridden by Legislators.

With the assistance of CT citizens who spoke out and called their legislators, a compromise to change the current regulation of the insurance rate review process was reached between the Administration, Commissioner of Insurance, and Health Care Advocate. Thomas Leonardi, as the new chosen Commissioner, reluctantly agreed as he promotes his office will uphold their responsibility to protect citizens from price gouging by health insurance companies.  It is up to CFC members to follow the course in the next six months and prepare to bring another bill up in February 2012, the next legislative session, if he does not hold to his promise.

The struggle is not over with the door slightly ajar to expand health care coverage to all residents of CT in 2014.  Governor Malloy’s decision to invite a health insurance company to return their headquarters to CT demonstrates that he is pursuing private enterprise over health care costs and accessibility.  It is up to CT residents to keep him informed of their health care needs and find solutions to current systems in accessing affordable and quality health care.  Governor Malloy needs to be reminded that a healthy resident is an asset to CT’s workforce.

 

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