SustiNet, the controversial universal health care bill, passed the Human Services Committee Thursday afternoon and will be forwarded to the floor of the House. The Human Services Committee was the third legislative committee to give its approval to the bill.
Sen. Anthony Musto, D-Trumbull, asked his colleagues on the committee to vote in favor of the legislation so they can get it to the floor of the House where it will then receive a fiscal note.
He also asked lawmakers to withhold their judgment of the legislation until a fiscal note is attached. He said if that fiscal note is too high then he too is reserving his right to vote against the bill in the future.
A fiscal note on similar legislation three years ago essentially killed the proposal by putting a hefty $11.8 billion to $18 billion price tag on it.
But Musto said that was before the federal government passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Consultants who helped develop the plan say it will save the state money and actually increase the amount of federal funding it receives making the bill essentially cost neutral on administering the health care to the various insured populations. However, it’s unclear still how much it will cost to set up the authority which will oversee the various plans.
The SustiNet bill has many moving parts, but its essential element is the creation of a massive health insurance pool which combines the current pool of state employees and retirees with people now covered under state assistance programs, such as Medicaid. The bill does not include any individual mandates to purchase health insurance, but would allow employers to join the plan through the federal health insurance exchanges.
It would also expand enrollment in public assistance programs and maximize federal reimbursement for such programs.
The bill has passed the Public Health and Insurance Committees, and will be passed back from the floor of the House to a few more committees before it goes to the House for a final vote.