NORWALK, Conn. — Small business owners were given an opportunity Wednesday to question Connecticut State Comptroller Kevin Lembo about a potential public health insurance option for their companies.
Proposed legislation says that “one way or another, the state has to help disrupt this (healthcare) market. For a decade, I’ve been waiting for a private entity, a private carrier to come in and disrupt that, put downward pressure on pricing,. bringing everyone else hopefully down, that hasn’t occurred,” Lembo said at the Wall Street Neighborhood Association meeting.
Video by Harold Cobin at end of story
Lembo’s visit was arranged by former Mayor Bill Collins on behalf of Connecticut Citizens Action Group (CCAG). Lembo explained his thoughts on House Bill 7267 to about 15 people in the offices of Mike DiScala at Head of the Harbor South.
Lembo said he left the capital as his staff was negotiating with Gov. Ned Lamont and the legislature on the bill, with a possible announcement on Thursday.
The bill would establish a ConnectHealth plan to be sold to companies with fewer than 50 employees. It has generated much pushback, Lembo said, explaining that it would “bring small businesses as an option into a plan that will be designed by my office and a full risk sharing relationship with the state employee plan, not at the state employee benefit design, because we know that’s not affordable for most people.”
Lembo pointed out that as comptroller he buys health care for a 250,000 people and, “We’ve got a lot of good smart forward thinking things on how we deliver this benefit in a in a better way. And that’s great, you know, because we’re saving $30 million for taxpayers, $80 million dollars for taxpayers, 180, just last year, year over year.”
“By any economic analysis, it’s failing market,” he said. “There are fewer and fewer competitors in the market, the pool of people is getting sicker and sicker…. we could sit around waiting for something positive to happen, keep doing the same thing over and over again. But that’s the definition of something we all know what that is.”
“You would get and see an immediate price relief,” he asserted, explaining that he doesn’t have stockholders and can do things for a 2% administrative cost versus 18% in the private market, meaning a “15% savings without trying very hard.”
“My hope is that if we get a product in the market, it would put that downward pressure on pricing, those that still want to compete would lower their prices and compete. And we would change the dynamic,” he said.
CTNewsJunkie reported on May 2 that some Democrats oppose the bill and Republican lawmakers unsuccessfully attempted to use a parliamentary procedure to kill it.
Outisde lobbyists are helping inside lobbyists and “I think the battle lines are clear and a negotiated settlement is possible,” Lembo said. “…If it goes well, we will have a press conference tomorrow with the governor legislative leaders to announce where we are. That doesn’t mean it will necessarily pass. It just means leadership agrees and then they have to persuade the members to vote.”
He asked supporters to call their legislators because “if we don’t get it going, it’s going to die on the vine.”
Mike McGuire asked if medical costs would be published with the proposed health care plan to be developed.
“To get to the savings would likely going to have something akin to a narrow network, meaning high quality, moderate to lower costs,” Lembo replied. “So people are going to know that buying in, that all of that information will be in is right now publicly available to the people that we work with… We do a lot of work around transparency. And we have a smart shopper program.”