The legislation that created SustiNet started a year ago with a veto override. Since then, the 11-member SustiNet Health Partnership Board of Directors has been formulating a plan to improve access to health care for all Connecticut residents.
The board was to meet Thursday to unveil seven financial models for consideration. The board was expected to attach a dollar amount to the proposal for the first time since the Office of Fiscal Analysis did so in a report three years ago. That report essentially killed the proposal by putting a hefty $11.8 billion to $18 billion pricetag on it.
“We are in the final phases of a well-planned and data-driven process, comparing cost models to the cost of doing nothing,” said Healthcare Advocate Kevin Lembo, who co-chairs the SustiNet board. “Changes to delivery systems and coverage are shifting the healthcare environment around the country. States with smart plans have the most to gain.”
The SustiNet proposal has many moving parts, but the essential element is the creation of a massive health insurance pool by combining the current pool of state employees and retirees with people now covered under state assistance programs like Medicaid. The proposal does not include any individual mandates to purchase health insurance, but would allow employers to join the plan as long as they contribute to the cost of their employees’ health insurance. It would also expand enrollment in public assistance programs and maximize federal reimbursement for such programs.
The Universal Healthcare Foundation, which led the movement to create SustiNet, estimated before the passage of national health care reform that it would eventually cost the state $950 million to increase doctor reimbursement rates and expand income levels for those enrolled in public assistance programs, such as Husky.
“The insurance capital of the country just passed a bill that provides a framework for a public option,” Juan Figueroa, president of the Universal Healthcare Foundation, said when the veto of the bill was overridden by the legislature back in 2009.
Figueroa said SustiNet is different than the plan in Massachusetts, where they addressed the issue of access before addressing quality and cost. SustiNet is designed to look at cost and quality at the same time as access, he said
The SustiNet board will present final recommendations to the governor and General Assembly in January. Enrollment in the program, if approved by the legislature and governor, will begin in July 2012.