HARTFORD, CT – With one week left in the legislative season, Republicans are struggling to get any traction on their health insurance proposals.
“If there was ever a time to act and to work on behalf of Connecticut families, the time is now,” Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, said Wednesday.
The proposed Republican solution calls for utilizing federal funds to help pay the most expensive claims, benching marking to compare costs of healthcare insurance, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
Republicans also said they don’t support a $50 million tax on the health insurance industry to help lower the premiums for low-income individuals on the exchange.
“Although we see there is a need to expand access to affordable healthcare, the proposed tax on health insurance coverage is not the way to achieve it,” said Stephanie Amato, president of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Health Underwriters.“…As local business and families are struggling to recover from the pandemic, now is not the time to make healthcare coverage more expensive.”
Earlier this year, none of the Republican proposals made it through the committee process and there have been no discussions about health care affordability with the Democratic majority.
The co-chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee blasted the Republicans and their proposals.
“Their scheme is ill-conceived, un-funded and obsolete. It would raise premiums for literally every family buying individual coverage in Connecticut,” Sen. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, said. “The only folks who would benefit are insurance companies. Once again, the Republican Party is putting insurance companies over families, small businesses and the people of Connecticut. Reinsurance was a good idea – before the passage of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan – but implementing it now would reduce federal subsidies for families in Connecticut buying individual coverage making their coverage even less affordable than it is now.”
Regardless, Republican leaders are determined to draw attention to the issue.
“This issue has been long overdue,” Kelly said. “There was the passage of the Affordable Care Act some seven years ago, and since then Democrats who have held majorities have promised to reduce health care costs. Unfortunately, for the Connecticut family that has not yet become a reality.”
Progressive lawmakers were also disappointed last month when a state-run insurance option died.
Sen. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield, said even after the defeat of the public option, the Republicans proposal was better.
“I just simply wish that we had an opportunity to present that debate in the Senate and in the House to recognize that a collaborative effort with our major insurance holders, shareholders as well as the legislative body of both chambers and both parties, is a much better way than a state one-size-fits all prescription,” Hwang said.
With one week left, Republicans are now left asking for Democratic support.
“We have a better way, we’ve shown a better way,” Kelly said. “We are now asking Democrats to join us in that better way to give the hardworking families of Connecticut the relief that they so rightfully deserve.”
House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora echoed the necessity behind focusing on how Health Insurance Tax will harm Connecticut residents, especially from staying within the state moving forward.
“I think that as Republicans, we certainly recognize that increasing taxing is only going to potentially constrict the economy and people are not going to be better off in the state of Connecticut,” Candelora said. “Connecticut will become less affordable.”
However, other individuals are still raising skepticism behind the outlined proposal and the effects that it will leave on healthcare and insurance costs moving forward.
“The proposal put forward would socialize the risk in healthcare and continue the for-profit insurance control of healthcare,” Executive Director of Connecticut Citizens Action Group Tom Swan said.
Keeping in mind the defeat of the public option, Swan said he wished the governor stood up to the insurance companies.
Insurance executives wrote a letter warning Gov. Ned Lamont that a state-run insurance plan could drive business out of the state.
“It’s disappointing but not totally surprising,” Swan said. “Our funding comes up in two years and we’ll be prepared to have a real fight over what is the appropriate role for government and what is the appropriate role for markets and it’s not the government subsidizing the risks.”
Until then, Republicans will continue their fight.
“As we get to a week left in the session, there is a bill out there that we can use to craft a better way because ultimately we all agree, Democrats and Republicans, that the status quo cannot stand,” Hwang said. “The cost of health insurance is at a rate that is unsustainable and unaffordable for Connecticut residents, but our solution recognizes it’s a better way of collaboration and input from all shareholders, not a state takeover of health insurance.”