State Senate leadership gathered Thursday at the Capitol to announce their intention to bring forth a universal health care plan when the next legislative session begins in January. Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, applauded the two Democratic candidates for governor, Mayor John DeStefano and Mayor Dannel Malloy, for making universal health care policy a central issue in their campaigns. “The rising cost of health care is a key concern,” Williams said. Affordable health care “should be a right.”

“The lack of health care coverage is directly affecting out workforce, which means it’s having a negative effect on our economic development efforts,” Williams said. He said 83 percent of uninsured households in the state have at least one working adult. He said 56 percent of those without health care on their own homes, which can in an instant be wiped out if there’s a major health care issue in the family.  He said the plan will include early prevention through the expansion of school-based health centers available to all public school children, complete physical exams for all adults in the state, easy access to primary care, and relief for employers and businesses. He said setting up some type of pool would help lower the cost of health insurance for everyone in the state. He didn’t endorse one mayor’s plan over the other and hoped whoever wins the governor’s race would be willing to work with the legislature on this critical issue. The winner of the Democratic primary Aug. 8 will go on to challenge Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Rell’s campaign spokesman Rich Harris said Rell has not explicitly announced a universal health care proposal, but it’s an issue the governor has been working on for awhile. He said she addresses the states concern over health care with the Congressional delegation and overall in budget adjustments. He said since health care touches on so many issues its been integrated into her overall vision and strategy for moving the state forward.