Members of Connecticut’s Health Care Future, a coalition of health insurers, hospitals, and businesses, are questioning whether Connecticut lawmakers have done enough this year to protect teachers and municipal employees from increases in health insurance premiums.
“Despite repeated bailouts from taxpayers, the Connecticut Partnership Plan continues to be a fiscal Titanic that demonstrates why government-controlled health programs are unaffordable and unstable,” the organization said in an email last week.
The state Comptroller’s office manages the Connecticut Partnership Plan, which has more than 64,000 members, including teachers, municipal employees and their dependents.
Josh Wojick, director of health policy, benefits, and services in the Comptroller’s Office, said he believes the plan is sustainable.
He said the medical loss ratio for 2020 and 2021 was 94.4% and 91.2%, respectively. And not the 103.7% cited in a report by Brown & Brown Insurance. He said claims have gone up, but it’s in direct relation to COVID-19 and the impact of the Omicron virus.
He said the nearly $40 million deficit the plan ran at the end of 2021 was directly related to COVID-19.
Premiums are expected to increase 10.5% for 2022, but he said that’s not unexpected and he expects to see private commercial insurers asking state regulators for similar increases when they submit their requests later this summer.
Wojick said the deficit was directly tied to COVID-19 treatments and testing that were already given to municipal employees.
Ellen Andrews, director of the CT Health Policy Project, said the plan doesn’t seem to be sustainable.
“Despite years of tweaks and significant state resources, it’s not sustainable. The deficit isn’t improving,” Andrews said. “Subsidizing municipalities’ healthcare costs might be a priority for the state, but that decision should be publicly debated and weighed against other uses for those funds.”
She said there’s not a lot of transparency about what the state is doing to backfill these deficits.
Wojick said they’ve been transparent and have raised the issue with the Cost Containment Committee, which is a public entity.
Andrews said it’s still hard to know “if we’re getting what we’re paying for.”
“The Partnership Plan’s track record of insolvency showcases why policymakers must reject any future consideration of an expanded one-size-fits-all, government-controlled health insurance system that could lead to higher taxes, increased health care costs and reduced access to quality care,” Connecticut’s Health Care Future said in a statement. “Private plans and existing public programs are already working together to expand access to quality, affordable health care. Connecticut policymakers and the private sector should work together to strengthen and improve the existing health care system.”
There’s a fear among the industry that lawmakers will look to expand the Connecticut Partnership Plan to create a public option that would allow small businesses and nonprofits to join.
There were few if any mentions this past legislative session of a public option and legislation never ended up materializing.
In 2021, legislation to create a public option died early in the session.
At the time, former state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, credited the health insurance industry for its lobbying and advertising efforts against the legislation as one of the reasons for its death.
“The people of Connecticut should find that unacceptable. They should also be very concerned that it worked,” Lembo said. Lawmakers blamed Gov. Ned Lamont for not supporting it.