Christine Stuart photo

Union officials and municipal leaders asked state lawmakers again Thursday for the ability to pool their health insurance risk with other municipalities and the state employees’ plan.

In 2011, legislation established a Connecticut Partnership Plan, which allowed municipalities to take advantage of the state’s health benefits plan. However, that legislation didn’t pool the risk of the approximately 10 municipalities that joined with the state plan or each other.

“The partnership system rates towns individually based upon claims and experience,” Sal Luciano, executive director of AFSCME Council 4, said Thursday. “While it provides the communities that have joined it with greater price stability, it unnecessarily inflates costs by keeping these groups in separate pools.”

Luciano said allowing for true pooling of risk would save local taxpayers money.

New London Mayor Daryl Finizio, whose city participates in the plan, said the larger the risk pool “the lower it will drive costs for all of us.”

Mark Waxenberg, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, said if the CEA were allowed to pool its members in various towns it could save $4,000 per policy when some of those policies cost as much as $35,000 a year for a family.

Lori Pelletier, executive secretary treasurer of the AFL-CIO, said the group hears all the time about state mandates, but this proposal is the “unmandate” because it allows municipalities buy into a bigger pool and save local taxpayers money.

She said it’s similar to the Costco model, in which people belong to Costco because they can buy 500 rolls of toilet paper cheaper there than they can buy one roll of toilet paper elsewhere.

Keith Stover, a lobbyist for the Connecticut Association of Health Plans, said he feels like he’s “having an acid flashback.”

He said it was a “bad idea then and it’s a bad idea now.”

Stover believes there are enough group options in the marketplace for groups and the bill is “a solution in search of a problem.”

But Rep. Peter Tercyak, co-chairman of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, said information about this bill needs to get out because municipalities aren’t even asking about it.

Tercyak said municipalities should at least be looking at the plan as an option and asking their brokers if they can beat it. He said that’s how the “metropolis of Sprague” was able to save money on that small town’s health insurance plan.

“The idea that somebody would stay with the same broker and vendor forever, because we have a relationship and pay millions and millions more for their city, strikes few taxpayers as a good idea,” Tercyak said. “We’ve got to stop that.”

The bill at the moment doesn’t include language regarding healthcare pooling, but they plan to use it as the vehicle for such in the future.