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Adam Thompson on April 24, 2008 - 10:23am
On Wednesday night, the Connecticut House passed a simple, yet far-reaching bill to offer small businesses and municipalities better, more affordable health insurance. The Connecticut Healthcare Partnership, HB 5536, allows small businesses and municipalities to join the state employee health insurance plan. This is significant because small employers, towns, employees and their families will be able to join forces with and benefit from the bargaining power of the 200,000 member-strong state employee pool.
House Majority Leader, Rep. Chris Donovan, who sponsored the legislation, projects millions of dollars in savings to municipalities who choose to join the state employee plan. New Haven, for instance, could save over $8.6 billion in annual employee health insurance costs, freeing up scarce resources for property tax relief and local investments in education, roads, and public safety.
Several states have proposals to create large public pools to negotiate better rates from insurance companies and hospitals. This is a key priority for long-term sustainable health care reform. Kansas and Delaware have proposals to allow small employers to join state employee health plans in some capacity and Wisconsin and Washington have proposals that combine the purchasing power of all residents not covered by Medicaid or Medicare. Additionally, Pennsylvania advocates are waging a strong campaign to move a statewide comprehensive health care system, known as the Family and Business Health Care Security Act, that would achieve tremendous economies of scale and ensure state residents get real value for their health care dollar.
If the Connecticut Senate follows the House, the Connecticut Healthcare Partnership would be precedent-setting legislation as one of the broadest measures to combine the health care purchasing power of the public and private sectors.