“Two years ago we didn’t have a plan we had an ideal—tonight we have a plan,” Rabbi Stephen Fuchs told hundreds gathered at Union Station in Hartford Tuesday.
Two years ago the Universal Health Care Foundation’s proposal to solve the crisis of the uninsured in the state fell flat when the Office of Fiscal Analysis put a price tag on it.
Juan Figueroa, president of the Universal Health Care Foundation, said earlier Tuesday afternoon during a conference call with the media that the Sustinet proposal is different in that it addresses the delivery of health care by making it more efficient, instead of simply dealing with the financing of the plan.
It creates “medical homes,” which is the modern version of a family doctor. In addition, it requires participating doctors to upgrade to an electronic medical records system and measures patient outcomes.
The plan which was put together over the past two years was also a collaboration. Figueroa said the proposal incorporates the ideas and suggestions of individuals, businesses, clergy, doctors, labor, and national experts.
Dr. Michael Deren, council chairman of the Connecticut State Medical Society, said many times these health care proposals are written in a vacuum without the input from medical physicians. He said that’s not the case with Sustinet, where the input of the medical society’s 7,000 members was welcomed and incorporated as part of the plan.
“If the concepts in the plan are passed things will change,” he said.
But Tuesday night was not about facts and figures or details about the plan it was a rally and a celebration.
The rally call Tuesday night was a resounding “Yes we can!” followed by “Yes we will!”
Inspired by the many speakers before him, Sen. Jonathan Harris, co-chairman of the legislature’s Public Health Committee, asked the hundreds in attendance to stand up so he could know it wasn’t a dream.
“We don’t need to study this anymore. We need to act,” Harris said.
Last week Harris said he believed some kind of health care reform was possible this year despite the state’s more than $6 billion budget deficit. However, he said it was possible as long as it didn’t cost any money. “Any new spending this year is not likely,” Harris said.
That being said the new costs associated with Sustinet are not immediate, Harris said Tuesday. He said the proposal would be in the planning stages for 2009 and 2010 while the state attempts to tackle some of its deficit woes.
Enrollment in the plan would begin in 2011 and by 2014 it would be fully operational.
Figueroa estimates that by 2014 families and businesses could save an estimate $1.75 billion.
In closing Tuesday’s rally Rev. James Walker called it a “watershed” moment and said there should be “no delay, no hesitation, and no compromise” when it comes to advocating for Sustinet. “It’s time for us to get vociferous,” he said.
Click here to read our earlier report which includes more details about Sustinet.