It’s no surprise to many proponents of the health care pooling bill that Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed it Friday afternoon.
Proponents say the bill would have allowed small business, municipalities, and nonprofits join the state employees health insurance pool and receive the same benefits at a lower cost than they are currently paying for health insurance because they’re able to bargain with 200,000 lives.
However, Rell said the current version of the legislation would not achieve the intended cost savings or increase the number of people with insurance and could lead to substantial costs to taxpayers. Read her veto message to Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz.
Majority Leader Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, said, “The information the governor used to reach her decision is wrong – she was swayed by threats and numbers from the insurance companies and not the comprehensive analysis that we provided.”
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said, “This veto will be a lasting legacy—an unnecessary, unfair setback to public health. This tragic missed opportunity blocks good insurance for hundreds of thousands of Connecticut citizens.”
“Governor Rell and the insurance industry collectively asserted that this bill was risky despite the fact that 24 other states have opted towards similar concepts to save money,” Phil Sherwood of CCAG said in a press release. For municipalities, the bill would have saved tax dollars on expensive health plans and alleviated pressure to cut back on community services, he said.
Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said, “Friday the 13th has proven to be an unlucky day for families and small businesses in Connecticut who are struggling to pay healthcare costs.” He said the bill would be back again next year.
In her press release, Rell said she would be willing to work with proponents of the bill to “develop a revised, more workable version of the bill in the next legislative session.”
“I strongly believe that every person in Connecticut should have access to basic health care,” Rell said. “However, the underlying difficulties in covering the uninsured and under-insured – among them affordability and guaranteeing that carriers are ready and willing to assume the risk – are not addressed by HB 5536. Numerous state programs presently in effect and the Charter Oak Health Plan, which is expected to begin accepting enrollments July 1, will do more to meet that goal than HB 5536.”
“I remain committed to passing a health care pooling bill into law and it will be one of our top priorities next legislative session,” Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said.