This report released by the SustiNet Board of Directors Thursday finds that Connecticut is well positioned to take advantage of the federal health care reform bill signed into law by President Barack Obama 60 days ago.
State Healthcare Advocate Kevin Lembo, who co-chairs the 11-member SustiNet board, said the report “plots a course for our future conversations and acknowledges the federal interaction in a solid way.”
The 11-member board, created last year after the Democrat-controlled General Assembly overrode Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s veto, has been meeting on a monthly basis preparing for the state‘s health care future.
In addition to designing a system, which would pool everyone from state employees and retirees to the uninsured and Medicaid populations into a single pool, the board will look at coordinating federal resources.
If the 2009 SustiNet law were in disagreement the report may have suggested that the General Assembly and the governor take immediate action. But “that’s not the case,” Lembo said.
“There is more agreement than disagreement.”
SustiNet’s approach to reform shares many common elements with the federal law, according to the report. “Accordingly, the federal law is likely to require only minor mid-course adjustments to the SustiNet law, rather than a radical change in direction,” the 27-page report states.
Three of the minor adjustments that may need to be made include changes to the start date of SustiNet, a decision about whether to make it a state licensed insurance product so it can be offered in the federal exchange, and whether it should start enrolling low-income adults in SustiNet.
“If these three policy elements are accepted, many questions will still need to be answered about how, in the wake of federal reform, SustiNet can continue to pursue the strategies and goals embodied in Connecticut’s 2009 law,“ the report states.
Lembo said many of these questions will be answered when the board submits its final report to the General Assembly in January 2011.
And nothing will take effect until its approved by the legislature and the new governor.
Even though Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed the SustiNet legislation which created the board that drafted the report, she has endorsed portions of the federal reform law.
The state has applied for federal reimbursements for the state’s low-income health plan for adults, also known as SAGA. The move is expected to bring in close to $50 million in new revenue though next fiscal year.
The report also points to several areas in the federal legislation that could help Connecticut start saving money immediately. For instance, the report found that the federal legislation provides $5 billion in reinsurance for early retiree coverage offered by employers (including state governments) that implement measures to address the cost of chronic illness.
Sections 2601 and 2602 of the federal legislation give states new options for combining Medicare and Medicaid funds into integrated delivery systems serving low-income seniors and people with disabilities who qualify both for Medicare and Medicaid and under section 2703, the federal government will provide 90 percent matching funds for patient-centered medical homes for beneficiaries with significant chronic illness.