Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed two pieces of legislation Friday that he said were well intentioned, but will come with a cost to the state.

One of the bills will mandate coverage of the 10 essential health benefits, if Congress decides to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The other mandates insurance coverage of prosthetic devices.

“While these two pieces of legislation will help ensure some citizens of Connecticut have access to important medical care, protection of these services is meaningless if our citizens cannot afford insurance coverage in the first place,” Malloy wrote in a letter accompanying the legislation.

Malloy acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act is under attack by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress, but “policy makers must focus on maintaining access to needed care while protecting consumers from these rising costs.”

He said adding new benefits without the aid of a full actuarial cost analysis will lead to “increased burdens on our already strained consumers.”

“The mandates in these two bills along will require the state to pay at least $2 million each year,” Malloy said.

The budget he signed into law does not include money for that purpose so he’s asked his budget office to identify ways to offset the cost, which was an estimate his office received from the insurance industry.

The fiscal note for the bill requiring coverage of prosthetic devices said it would cost the state up to $600,000 in 2019 and $1.2 million in 2020. The amendment that would have eliminated the fiscal note never got called. 

There should be no impact to the bill mandating coverage of the 10 essential health benefits, according to lawmakers.

Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, who championed the 10 essential health benefits said during the debate that it won’t impact insurance rates because these benefits are already covered by insurance plans.

The legislation would apply to fully-insured plans. It would not impact self-insured plans like the one the state and large employers use. Several lawmakers talked about how guilty they feel about paying so little for such good health benefits.

The essential health benefits protected under the bill include ambulatory patient services; emergency services; hospitalization; maternity and newborn health care; mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.