Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie photo
Office of Health Strategy Executive Director Vicki Veltri (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie photo)

MIDDLETOWN, CT — The average annual health insurance premium for a family in Connecticut is more expensive than a Ford Focus and most of that is tied to the cost of care.

In Connecticut, over the past 15 years health care costs have grown 77%, at that same time wages have only grown by 21% if that rate of growth carried through to grocery items a dozen eggs would cost $100, Vicki Veltri, executive director of the Office of Health Strategy, said Wednesday.

She said healthcare costs continue to climb while utilization has been flat and “that is unsustainable.”

In order to get at the problem of rising medical costs Gov. Ned Lamont signed his fifth executive order Wednesday to allow Veltri office to develop annual healthcare cost growth benchmarks.

Veltri said creating annual cost growth benchmarks are “the key to reigning in healthcare spending.”

There are no penalties for the doctors, practices, or hospitals that don’t meet those benchmarks aside from public pressure to come closer to the benchmark.

Veltri said they would be looking toward creating performance improvement plans for providers and payers who exceed the benchmarks.

Similar benchmarks in Massachusetts have saved healthcare consumers more than $5 billion since 2013, according to Veltri.

“We’ve got to address the underlying costs of health care and that’s what this bill is all about,” Lamont said.

The executive order had bipartisan support.

“Connecticut residents deserve affordable, accessible and quality health care, “but for far too long families have struggled with the high cost of premium and medical bills and worse some have even delayed or went without the needed care they deserved,” Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, said. “It takes and moves our state in a positive and forward motion to start to look at ways we can increase transparency and get our arms around the increasing cost of medical costs so that we can bring relief to Connecticut families.”

Kelly applauded Lamont’s efforts.

Similar language to create a benchmarking commission was included in a controversial public option bill last year that died after the insurance industry raised objections.

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie photo
Gov. Ned Lamont signs the executive order at Pro Health Physicians in Middletown (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie photo)

Asked if he would support a public option, such as the one being proposed by Senate Democrats, Lamont said “I prefer working in a collaborative manner.”

Asked again to answer the yes or no question and Lamont said: “I prefer what we’re doing right here.”

Another executive order Lamont signed Wednesday would require the Department of Social Services to develop a public transparency strategy for Medicaid and report to Lamont on the strategy in a year.