Gov. Lamont puts support behind public health option

Gov. Ned Lamont says he's on board for a controversial "public" health insurance option.
Democrats say the public Connecticut Option would be up to 20 percent cheaper than what is on the market now. They say the cost would drop because the state can use its massive buying power to negotiate prices down.
Today, Lamont said government-backed policies would be perfect for small businesses. Connecticut Option plans would be offered both on and off the Access Health CT Exchange.
"This thing we are doing today is the most significant thing we can do to help small business grow and prosper in Connecticut," says state Comptroller Kevin Lambo.
Republicans blasted the plan because it would force every state resident to get health insurance or face a penalty. The Affordable Care Act had the same requirement up until this year.
"Not once, not once, have the Republicans even known this was going on," says state Sen. Len Fasano. "There's no public hearing, there's no testimony, there's no evidence that this is good or bad."
Home health care worker Shomit Sengupta says, for him, it could mean the difference between being able to afford health insurance or going without.
"This bill is absolutely critical in ensuring that hard workers like me, that are taking care of your relatives and loved ones, get by in life," says Sengupta.
To help pay for this plan, opioid makers would be charged a new wholesale tax.
Pharma spokesperson Tiffany Haverly responded, saying, "Putting forward a tax on medicines that meet legitimate medical needs is not an appropriate way to fund the governor's priorities that have nothing to do with the opioid crisis in Connecticut."
Insurance carriers have also pushed back against the plan, saying it would hit them very hard.
With Lamont now on board, Democrats are hoping to pass the plan in the next two weeks. It would be offered beginning in 2022.