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Connecticut takes bold step toward health care for all

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23, 2008
CONTACT: Austin Guest, aguest@progressivestates.org, 212.680-3116 x 110

CONNECTICUT HOUSE TAKES BOLD STEP TOWARD AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL

POOLING MECHANISM WOULD SAVE MILLIONS FOR CITIES AND SMALL BUSINESSES

Hartford - Tonight, in a 102 to 43 vote, the Connecticut House of Representatives approved legislation that would dramatically reduce health insurance costs for tens of thousands of Connecticut residents by allowing them to buy into the group plan currently provided to state employees.

By allowing small businesses, non-profits, and municipalities to join the 200,000 members-strong state plan, the Connecticut Healthcare Partnership would foster competition among health insurance carriers and enable employers to access extensive benefits with lower premiums, deductibles and co-pays for their employees.

According to the bill’s sponsor, House Majority Leader Chris Donovan, the legislation has the potential to reduce New Haven’s annual health care expenditures by $8.6 million. East Hartford and Danbury would stand to save $1.1 million and $850,000, respectively. As Rep. Donovan has pointed out, these savings could be put toward property tax relief as well as increased investments in schools, roads, and other municipal infrastructure.

While several states already grant municipalities access to the state employee health insurance pool, the Connecticut plan would be the first to extend that opportunity to employers in the private sector.

“This is a huge precedent setter,”? said Adam Thompson, a health care expert with the Progressive States Network, which tracks health care reform initiatives in states across the country. “Lots of states are working to make health care affordable. The Healthcare Partnership is unique because it allows small businesses to join forces with the purchasing power of the state employee health plan, delivering better, more affordable coverage to working families and increased choice and control for employers. It’s a boon for employers and employees alike.”?

Thompson also noted that Connecticut is on the leading edge of a budding movement to use private-public pooling to lower health care costs. With similar pooling provisions being considered in Kansas, Delaware, Washington, and Wisconsin, full passage of the Connecticut bill could spark a chain reaction of state-level action to provide affordable care.

“We all know that D.C. is spinning its wheels right now when it comes to health care, nowhere more so than on the affordability of health care,”? said Thompson. “If this pooling model gets legs in the states, it will move the whole country a step in the right direction and increase pressure on Washington to actually get something done.”?

Following its passage in the House, the Connecticut Health Partnership will head to the Senate for a vote as early as next Monday.

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