The state Senate passed its emergency certification health care bill 24 to 12 along party lines with an estimated 24 hours left in the legislative session and the possibility the governor won’t sign it without a budget agreement.
Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said the bill is “a huge step forward,” toward the goal of a universal, quality, and affordable health care system. He said the expansion of Medicaid eligibility and increases in provider reimbursements lays the ground work for substantive reform.
But Republicans questioned whether the Democratic majority should have even gone forward with the bill outside of the budget process since it requires a $49 million appropriation.
Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, said it was a “dream bill,” but the way in which it was introduced begs the Republican minority to vote in a sequence that is impractical. He said “it would behoove us to pass a budget with increases in Medicaid rates, instead of taking this leap of faith,” and passing this bill before the budget is negotiated.
“Let’s do this bill as the first bill after the budget,” Roraback said.
Sen. David Cappiello, R-Danbury, said using the emergency certification process as the vehicle for this bill is “confusing and somewhat unfair.” He said the emergency certification bill does not go through the committee process. He said he wants to know why when there are dozens of health care bills alive, would the Democrats choose this method.
Sen. Toni Harp, D-New Haven, said the “e-cert” bill is a compilation of existing bills that have gone through the committee process. She said it was a way for the caucus to combine all the bills.
Sen. Andrew MacDonald, D-Stamford, said “clearly this bill we’re debating is a definitive policy statement and it’s where we should be headed in regard to health care.” He said if the governor refuses to sign it, which her spokesman Chris Cooper suggested earlier in the evening, then it only “clouds the important work this bill does.”
Health care advocates like Jon Green, executive director of the Working Families Party, said the bill “represents a step in the right direction, but it’s a smaller and slower step than what was possible.”