Christine Stuart photo

Co-chairman of the legislature’s Public Health Committee, Rep. Peggy Sayers, D-Windsor Locks, was grilled by her constituents on her support for a single-payer universal health care system.

More than 60 residents packed a room at the Windsor Community Center Thursday to share their health care stories and attempt to convince Sayers single-payer is the way to go.

But Sayers remained unconvinced.

One woman said managed care organizations and the insurance industry has a lot they can sacrifice in administrative costs which are passed along to consumers. Sayers dodged the issue by saying she suspects the Human Services and Insurance and Real Estate Committees are handling those issues.

She said the issues regarding health care that pertain to the Public Health Committee include things such as electronic records and chronic disease management. But HealthCare4Everyone that sponsored the event thought Sayers committee passed a single-payer bill out of committee Thursday.

The bill they were referring to HB 6693 “An Act Concerning the Creation of a State Health Care Plan,” provides for the creation of a state health care plan to provide quality, affordable health care coverage to all residents of Connecticut, which shall be funded by employer and individual contributions. Sayers said they were mistaken that this is not a single-payer bill.

She said she still has questions about how beneficial a single-payer system would be especially for her district where two insurance companies are moving in. She said she worries that with a single-payer system insurance companies would move out of the state or lay-off their employees many of whom are her constituents.

One man said that the United States is ranked 37th in the world when it comes to health care. He wondered out loud “What are we gaining by maintaining the current system?” Windsor Councilman Al Simon said the current system where one neighbor may have better employer benefits than another is fundamentally wrong. He said the problem with the current system is that it doesn’t address the issue of cost, which makes it unaffordable. Rose Mary O’Connell said even with some minor changes to the current system “you’re still dealing with a fragmented and inefficient system.”

In an Insurance and Real Estate Committee hearing Tuesday state Rep. John Geragosian, D-New Britain, asked the two insurance executives who testified in favor of an insurance industry preservation bill why should legislators and the public trust the market-based insurance industry that got us to this point. David Fusco, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut, said, the insurance industry is coming up with innovative ways to cover many of the uninsured and small business owners in the state. Fusco said it’s unfair to compare the administration of Medicaid with the administration of commercial insurance companies, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Geragosian followed up with a question about what is considered an administrative cost?
“Is advertising considered part of your administrative costs?” Geragosian asked.
Fusco said advertising is part of our administrative costs. And what about those skybox seats Geragosian wondered outloud.

ConnectiCare CEO Mickey Hebert said there are other wellness and chronic disease programs his company administers that count towards the administrative cost of the insurance, which he estimated at about 16 percent. Medicaid’s administrative costs are around 3 percent.

Aren’t these administrative costs something the legislature should be looking at? Sayers said that’s the state Insurance Department’s job.

O’Connell, a nurse by profession, said no matter what the state does it has to take the HMO’s and managed care organizations out of the system. She said the state should look at the administration of Medicare as a model for its system.