The author of this editorial is the president of the Universal Health Care Foundation

With just days remaining in the 2009 legislative session, momentum for health care reform continues to grow as SustiNet (H.B. 6600) moves closer to a vote in the state Senate after overwhelmingly passing in the House.

Poll after poll demonstrates that the public is demanding bold change in health care. The polls reflect an all too familiar and unfortunate reality: Our health care system is broken. And in increasing numbers, people are seeing SustiNet as the vehicle for change. There’s little mystery to the reason for the growing demand when looking at the troubling numbers.

Health insurance premiums for Connecticut working families increased 81 percent from 2000 to 2007. At the same time, the median earnings of Connecticut workers increased 10 percent from $32,106 to$35,281. That means health insurance premiums in our state have risen 8.2 times faster than wages.

Even more disturbingly, there is ever growing consensus that our health care crisis is poised to get worse yet.

Some assert that we should sit back and wait for the feds to fix the broken health care system for us. Indeed, many are awaiting details on President Obama’s health care reform plan. But SustiNet is ready. In fact, it is designed specifically to anticipate and capitalize on national health reform. SustiNet will put our state at a competitive advantage to benefit from national reform and federal resources.

There are a few who still stubbornly suggest we ignore the health care crisis until later and deal with the economy as if the two weren’t intertwined. Connecticut can’t afford to wait any longer. The majority of new jobs, 80 percent, are created by small businesses, which are disproportionately affected by skyrocketing health care costs. Putting off health care reform will only fuel the recession.

SustiNet not only puts us at an advantage in paving the way for economic recovery and job growth but is also the most comprehensive health care proposal before the legislature.

Despite growing public pressure for bold change and the urgency of action, there are many powerful and well connected interests that have a vested interest in preserving the statue quo.  But the momentum for change is real. And it has never been greater. The window of opportunity for health care reform is now. By supporting SustiNet, legislative leaders can support historic reform that will increase choice, spur competition and lower health care costs in the state.