Last week they quarreled back and forth through a series of letters, but Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Democratic lawmakers reached agreement over the separation of the state’s two insurance programs Tuesday.
Sen. Jonathan Harris, D-West Hartford, said it’s now clear doctors no longer have to contract for both Husky, a Medicaid program for low-income families and children, and the new state-subsidized Charter Oak Health Plan for uninsured adults.
By forcing medical providers to accept both insurance programs it was “dragging down the enrollment of providers in the Husky program,” Harris said Tuesday. “Now a weight has been lifted off the back of Husky and it should be better able to build its networks.”
Medical professionals have been reluctant to sign up for Husky because it was linked to the Charter Oak Health Plan for uninsured adults ages 19 to 64, which doesn’t pay commercial reimbursement rates.
“If you want Connecticut physicians to provide care to Charter Oak Health Plan enrollees, your administration should work with the legislature and Connecticut physician organizations to offer a plan which reimburses physicians at rates which are market competitive and do not put physicians in economic jeopardy,” Doug Arnold, executive director of Middlesex Professional Services Inc., wrote in an Aug. 12 letter to Harris.
Harris said he is still committed to helping Rell’s Charter Oak Health Plan succeed. He said his first concern was Husky and once those medical networks are in place he will focus on making sure the Charter Oak plan succeeds.
In a joint press release issued by everyone involved in Tuesday’s meeting, Department of Social Services Commissioner Michael Starkowski reiterated that the $3.5 billion contract does not need to be re-bid based on the enrollment clarification. The contract was awarded to three insurance companies back in April, however, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal opined last week that since the state changed the terms of the initial contract, it should re-open the process to allow other insurance companies to bid.
“We’re not only recommending it or suggesting it, we’re saying it’s almost a legally necessary step at this point to avoid challenges,” Blumenthal said last week.
In Tuesday’s joint press release, Blumenthal, along with Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein and Healthcare Advocate Kevin Lembo, said, “Eliminating these issues, which created doubt and misunderstanding, is a positive and constructive step that enables us to move forward. Both Charter Oak and Husky are needed and deserve to succeed.”
“The administration has wisely changed course,” they said.
Rell called Tuesday’s meeting to clear the air between the Department of Social Services and Democratic lawmakers. The Freedom of Information request Starkowski filed against Democratic lawmakers was not discussed at the meeting.