(Updated 4:27 p.m.) Tom Foley is skeptical of federal health care reform, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s Charter Oak Health Care plan for uninsured adults, and the SustiNet Health Partnership Board.
And while the Republican gubernatorial nominee prefers the HMO model of health care delivery, he’s open to alternatives like Primary Care Case Management where doctors receive the money to manage a patients’ care, instead of an insurance company.
“Health care services accounts for $30 billion or more than 15 percent of our state’s economy,” Foley said Thursday at the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain. “If we get it right, health care services is a good opportunity to improve the lives of our citizens while creating jobs in Connecticut.”
That’s a goal both Foley and his opponent, Democratic nominee Dan Malloy, can agree on.
The second step in Foley’s health care plan calls for the creation of a “core benefits” plan that private employers unable to offer their employees insurance in the past could afford. The “core benefits” plan, like a catastrophic plan, wouldn’t include coverage for any of the state’s mandated coverages, such as mammography, prostate screenings, or maternity care. The coverage would be set by the Insurance Commissioner and it would be focused on “basic care needs.”
In the end, Foley said the “core benefits” plan would be offered by the private market, not the state.
That part of Foley’s proposal immediately solicited remarks from Malloy, and Democratic State Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo.
“He proposes a moratorium on benefit mandates to private insurance carriers. What does this mean?,” Malloy said in a statement. “That the state would no longer be able to ensure coverage for patients with existing conditions. I suppose taking wigs away from cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy wasn’t far enough – Tom wants to take their insurance too.”
Foley’s health care plan also seeks to place a moratorium on any new private health insurance benefit mandates.
“To the extent that employers can’t afford the state mandated plans, we needed the ability to arrive at a basic and inexpensive health care plan for them, for their employees,“ Foley said.
Foley refused to be specific about eliminating any specific state mandates and only said the plan would cover “core needs.” It’s unclear what exactly those “core needs” would include. Click here for a list of Connecticut’s mandates.
“For employers who can’t afford the cost of the state mandated plans there needs to be an ability for them to provide a ‘core needs’ health care so their employees have some health care,” Foley said.
Click here to watch the video of Foley’s remarks Thursday.
“Cutting wigs for cancer patients and allowing employers to offer healthcare coverage that would exclude mammographies, prostate screenings and maternity care? What’s on the chopping block next?” DiNardo wondered. “Hearing aids for children, pap smears, treatment for leukemia and tumors, the ability to call 911 without preauthorization and care for newborns? In Tom Foley’s Connecticut, yes – all of that and more would be exempted from these healthcare plans. Beyond an incredibly tone-deaf and unbelievably insensitive proposal, it’s also, plainly put, bad policy. I’ve never known anyone to tout so openly a plan that would devastate so many. What kind of a man – and what kind of a Governor – would propose such a thing?”
Foley said the state is really going to have to wait to find out how the recently enacted federal health care bill impacts it.
“State-based plans for expanding coverage need to be tabled until we understand the structure and impact of the federal plan,“ Foley said. “Our health care focus near term in Connecticut needs to be on lowering costs, improving quality, and improving the health status of our citizens.”
Malloy unveiled his health care policy at the same New Britain hospital back in June.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s health care board and the SustiNet Health Partnership, created by the legislature, have been hard at work interpreting the federal legislation and taking advantage of any opportunities it holds.
But Foley’s not a fan of newly enacted federal health care bill or SustiNet, which is looking to create a public option for Connecticut residents by pooling all the state employees, retirees, Medicaid recipients, and eventually the public under one umbrella.
“SustiNet right now, is really a program without a purpose,” Foley said Thursday. “If the purpose they find is a public option, we do not need and cannot afford a public option.”
Foley wants to reduce the cost of health care in Connecticut by 10 percent over five years.
Health and wellness programs, smoking cessation, tort reform and electronic medical records are just a few of the ways Foley suggested he would employ to accomplish that goal.
“It’s not talking about reducing the services available to people, it’s just the cost of those services,” Foley said.
However, Foley admitted wellness programs take some time to implement and it could take years to see results from people looking to change their behavior by losing weight or quitting smoking.
He said a more immediate step he would take involves transitioning the elderly population from nursing homes back into community-based settings. He said as soon as the state has the capacity to move them back into a community-based setting then that can begin saving some money. He estimates that process will take three years and is based on research released earlier this year.
A group of business leaders and chambers of commerce discovered the state could shave $900 million off its $3 billion long-term care budget if it rebalances community care with nursing home care.