Connecticut lawmakers consider public option insurance plan during hearing

Connecticut lawmakers discussed a potential public option for health insurance in the state during a virtual hearing Tuesday.

News 12 Staff

Feb 10, 2021, 3:30 AM

Updated 1,219 days ago

Share:

Connecticut lawmakers discussed a potential public option for health insurance in the state during a virtual hearing Tuesday.
"Not a single member in my family has ever had health care in their entire lives," says Brigeth Rivera, of Hartford.
It would be open to small businesses and nonprofits - places that usually struggle to afford private insurance for their workers. On top of that, the state plans would only be an option; they would still be competing against private insurers.
"This should be easy, all we're suggesting is that we give people a choice," says Connecticut state Comptroller Kevin Lembo.
Supporters say a government-backed option would lower premiums because the state could use its massive buying power to negotiate cheaper drug prices and doctor's visits.
In the age of COVID-19, some families say they need a whole new insurance option.
"My father, who works in construction - a very labor-intensive job - was unable to go the hospital due to cost, despite his enormous pain," says Rivera.
Connecticut's sizeable insurance industry, which is one of the state's largest employers, strongly opposes the idea. So does the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.
They say their customers could pay more when they are hit with a new annual fee to help people pay for Obamacare plans.
"I feel like we're at a tipping point, right? There's only so much more juice in the lemon," says Sue Halpin, with the Connecticut Association of Health Plans.
"This public option plan also creates an unlevel playing field for private market insurers, with the potential to permanently damage the economic activity and tens of thousands of jobs this industry supports," CBIA president Chris DiPentima said in written testimony.
Republicans are proposing a scaled-down bill letting people import cheaper drugs from Canada and setting up a "re-insurance program" to contain costs.
Private insurance is big business in the state. State lawmakers are nervous about doing anything that could jeopardize those jobs, especially during a pandemic. 


More from News 12