Connecticut voters are worried about healthcare costs and don’t believe state government is doing enough, according to a new poll from SEIU. Almost half of Connecticut voters named healthcare and insurance costs as a major problem in maintaining their current standard of living.
Healthcare cost concerns were only behind local property taxes as a threat to our state and ahead of housing, low wages, and taxes. Half of Connecticut voters also think the state doesn’t spend enough on “Medicaid or health care for children, seniors, and working adults who otherwise would not have access,” and only 11 percent believe the state spends too much. Forty-one percent believe that cuts to Medicaid will have a negative impact on them or their family.
Connecticut’s Medicaid system deserves the public’s support reflected in the new poll. Since firing private managed care plans in 2012, Connecticut Medicaid has improved access to care, raised quality to the levels of private coverage and lowered per person costs saving the state hundreds of millions in tax dollars.
This mirrors growing national frustration with health costs and governments’ inability to do anything about it. Seventy one percent of Americans believe our health system is in “crisis.” Healthcare consumed 18 percent of the U.S. economy in 2016 and that number is growing, squeezing out other priorities. Connecticut residents spend 23 percent more for health care than other Americans, and we aren’t getting our money’s worth. Medical errors are the third largest cause of death in the US. Connecticut residents are more likely than residents of 37 other states to be hospitalized for an avoidable condition.
Employers are just as frustrated as American consumers. Two weeks ago Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase announced they will form their own independent healthcare company “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.” In their announcement the companies said, “The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy.” Health insurer stocks plummeted after the announcement.
Americans are giving up on market–driven options to solve this problem. Gallup polls find a growing number of Americans support a government-run health care system while support for private insurance-based system is dropping.
Connecticut needs to listen to consumers who know our state needs affordable healthcare to maintain our standard of living. We don’t need more blind faith in market-based, profit-driven options that always disappoint. We need to invest directly in healthcare in smart ways, following Medicaid’s example. Then the state needs to do its job, regulate critical health care industries, and hold everyone accountable.
Ellen Andrews, PhD, is the executive director of the CT Health Policy Project. Follow her on Twitter @CTHealthNotes.
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