The Health First Authority created by the legislature in 2007 to study ways in which all Connecticut residents could have access to health care and health insurance coverage voted 8-2 on its final report Tuesday.
Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele and Brian Grissler, president and CEO of Stamford Hospital, voted against the final report.
Following the hour-long meeting, Fedele said he supports the final report as a concept and strategy, but thinks it was irresponsible to vote on it without a fiscal note. He said it’s going to be difficult for the legislature to vote on anything without knowing the associated costs.
“Clearly a vast majority of the authority disagreed with him,” Tom Swan, co-chairman of the Health First Authority, said.
“At the end of the day, what is important is that we have a broad strategy with which to move forward,” Swan said.
He said a cost analysis is currently being worked on by Jonathan Gruber of MIT. The Universal Health Care Foundation donated Gruber’s time to the authority for a fiscal analysis of its recommendations.
The authority will present the report on Thursday, Feb. 26 to a joint hearing of the legislature’s Public Health, Insurance and Real Estate, and Human Services committees.
In the report the authority laid out principles and strategies for achieving universal coverage, improving the quality of care, and called for the creation of an independent body to coordinate health care spending and oversee the proposed reforms.
The vote on the final report was delayed by one month because the authority was unable to reach consensus on health insurance pooling.
Mickey Herbert, president and CEO of ConnectiCare, said he was concerned about the six statements regarding pooling in the final report because they seemed to suggest the authority supported the notion of pooling. “I cannot support pooling without knowing how it would function,” he said.
He said pooling won’t work in the individual market unless there’s an individual mandate that would require individuals to purchase health insurance. He suggested the authority sanitize the report and take out any reference to pooling.
Sharon Langer, a senior policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children, said she sees something different in the report. “Trying to provide good coverage to everyone has a lot of moving parts,” she said. Pooling is just one of those moving parts.
Margaret Flinter, co-chairman of the Health First Authority, said pooling as a concept, whether it be through the governor’s Charter Oak Plan or through group health insurance offered by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, was something that was strongly articulated throughout the public hearing process, which is why it was included in the final draft.
Herbert, who in the end voted in favor of the final report, said he was worried that pooling would overshadow all the other aspects of the report if it was included.
Last year, Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed a bill which would have allowed municipalities, nonprofits, and small businesses join the state employees health insurance pool.
Fedele said pooling was not the reason he voted against the final draft Tuesday. He maintained that he is currently working with Democratic leadership on a pooling bill, “which looks nothing like the one we talked about last year.”
Click here to read the Health First Authority’s final report.