ctnewsjunkie file photo
Sen. Kevin Kelly (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

Sen. Kevin Kelly, a Republican from Stratford and the ranking member on the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, was going to host a forum on reducing healthcare costs Thursday, but it’s been postponed.

The forum was going to include three separate panels exploring three topics: a state-funded reinsurance program, models for benchmarking healthcare cost growth, and prescription drug importation.

However, once Democratic lawmakers learned about the forum, it was postponed.

In a joint statement, Kelly, Rep. Cara Pavalock-D’Amato, Sen. Matt Lesser, and Rep. Sean Scanlon, the two co-chairs of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, said it was postponed until the end of October “to allow for further bipartisan conversations with all four caucuses and the governor’s administration.”

“There is a bipartisan commitment to work together to reduce the costs of healthcare through a state-funded reinsurance program, health care cost growth benchmarking and transparency, and prescription drug importation. We all look forward to continuing our conversations and hearing more from stakeholders next month to help us develop legislation to reduce health care costs and increase access to care.”

None of the panels organized by Kelly were partisan in nature.

The first panel on reinsurance was going to feature Neil Kelsey, an actuary with ConnectiCare Inc., Christine Cappiello, senior director of government relations for Anthem; Juliet Chubet, president for CT Benefit Brokers, and Paul Lombardo with the Connecticut Insurance Department.

The second panel on health cost benchmarking was going to feature David Seltz, the first executive director of the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, an independent state agency charged with monitoring health care spending growth in Massachusetts, Patricia Baker, executive director of the Connecticut Health Foundation, Vicki Veltri, executive director of the Office of Health Strategy in Connecticut, and Ellen Andrews, executive director of the Connecticut Health Policy Project.

The third panel, focused on drug importation, was going to include a representative from the AARP, Ken Ferrucci of the CT State Medical Society, and a representative of the state Department of Consumer Protection.

All three of the panels were focused on topics that were included in a bill that failed to get over the finish line before the legislature adjourned on June 5.

The bill that passed the House and then died on the Senate calendar included federal waivers for reinsurance, which would allow the federal government to cover the costs of some of the most expensive claims; a measure to allow Connecticut to import drugs from Canada, which would require federal approval; and it would have created a “cost containment commission” to monitor price changes by health care providers in an effort to keep prices low.

Republicans objected to how the reinsurance program in the legislation was structured because it would have used a portion of the premiums consumers pay to cover the costs.

Kelly, who supports the concept of reinsurance, has said states that rely on premium assessments get far fewer federal dollars than states that use money from the general fund to contribute a state share of funding.

Kelly said finding $20 million in savings in the state budget to help lower health insurance premiums should have been the first thing Gov. Ned Lamont did when he looked at the budget.
He said it’s not a partisan issue and everyone hears from their constituents about the cost of healthcare.