A number of his proposals to change the health care system in the state would cost money, others would save money, Democratic party’s endorsed gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy said Thursday.
Standing in the lobby of the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain, Malloy said he wanted to move all of Connecticut’s acute care facilities to an electronic medical record keeping system.
“It’s not just the paper you save. What you end up saving is the repetitive testing,” Malloy said.
If a doctor orders tests and concludes that you need to see a specialist, but the specialist doesn’t have the result of those tests, then they’re going to order more of the same tests, Malloy said.
Very few hospitals in Connecticut have implemented electronic medical records and, “I want to move us rapidly in that direction,” Malloy said.
Malloy also talked expanding the state’s HUSKY program, for low-income children and families, but admitted he doesn’t know exactly how the state will accomplish the expansion under the new federal health law.
“What I said four years ago is that we should have moved from 185 percent of poverty, which in Connecticut is real poverty, to 385 percent,” Malloy. “I’m not really making that hard and fast recommendation at the moment because we have to figure out how we’re going to do that within the new federal system.”
“What we could do immediately is do the paperwork for everyone whose otherwise HUSKY eligible,” Malloy said.
Malloy said he did this in Stamford under the “Every Child Matters” program where students were asked whether they had insurance when they were enrolled in school. He said if they didn’t have insurance and were eligible for HUSKY the city would help sign them up in whatever language they spoke.
As far as expanding eligibility, he said he would strive to get more federal funds for the program to help lower the state’s costs. He said increasing those enrolled in the program will help cut down on unreimbursed care for those that show up at emergency rooms without any ability to pay.
There are currently more than 390,000 individuals enrolled in the HUSKY program. Enrollment has increased by about 60,000 over the past two years as the economy soured.
Expansion of the HUSKY program could get costly and Malloy’s campaign insists he’s not in favor of expansion, unless the state is able to increase the amount of federal reimbursement.
The state awarded a five-year $3.5 billion contract to three managed care companies in 2008 to serve both the HUSKY population and uninsured adults through Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s Charter Oak Health Plan.
Asked if he would keep Rell’s Charter Oak program, Malloy admitted that he was a critic of the program. “I don’t think its done anything near what the governor said it would do. I think it started as a public relations program… I think the last updated analysis I saw was probably four months, so I’m not going to throw out the baby with the bath water, but I’m substantially weary.”
“I can’t tell you what I would do at the moment,” Malloy said.
What he would do is look at pooling the state‘s municipalities, small businesses and nonprofits. Rell vetoed similar legislation and the Democrat-controlled General Assembly was unable to overturn back in 2009.
He said the state itself is the largest purchaser of healthcare services in the state and should use that purchasing power to lower costs for municipalities, boards of education, and nonprofits.
Ned Lamont, Malloy’s opponent in the Democratic primary, is expected to unveil his health care proposal over the next few weeks.
Malloy is second of the six gubernatorial candidates to visit the Hospital of Special Care in New Britain. Republican Oz Griebel has already toured the facility and Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele is scheduled to visit it in the future. Hospital officials said all have been invited.