16 March 2007

Connecticut single-payer to get hearing

Wouldn't it be something if single-payer in the U.S. began in Connecticut?

Connecticut’s Insurance Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly voted earlier this week in unexpected support of a bill modeled on research done by the Connecticut Universal Health Care Foundation.

The bill, SB 1371, the “Connecticut Saves Health Program,” insures Connecticut residents through a single insurer serving as a statewide claims administrator.

Eleven committee members voted in favor of putting this single payer option on the table for ongoing consideration, while six legislators sought to kill the proposal in committee.

Here's Connecticut Universal Health Care Foundation's description of the plan:
S.B. 1371 would insure all residents of Connecticut through a single, statewide health plan covering comprehensive health services typical of private employers in New England. A single insurer would serve as statewide claims administrator, in the same way that regional insurers administer claims for the Medicare program today. Individuals and employers could purchase additional coverage, but everyone would be enrolled in the statewide plan.

To fund the plan, each employer above a certain size would contribute a certain percentage of payroll. Individuals would make contributions on a sliding scale, based on income.

This plan is called “Connecticut Saves,” because it would lower health care spending while covering all the state’s residents. Large administrative savings would result if health care providers have only one major insurer for all patients under age 65, rather than multiple insurers, each with its own unique system for submitting, processing, and evaluating claims. Savings would also result through eliminating the majority of health insurers’ administrative costs.

Low-income residents previously eligible for other programs would receive the bulk of their care through this state plan, giving them access to the same reimbursement levels and the same health care providers that serve middle-class residents. In addition, low-income families would receive supplemental services and protection against cost-sharing.

A prior version of this proposal was analyzed by Dr. Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who found that it would lower employers’ health care costs by $600 million a year and give households more than a billion dollars a year in additional resources that could be devoted to purposes other than purchasing health care. As a result, based on the REMI macroeconomic model for Connecticut, the earlier version of this proposal was projected to add 6,000 to 11,000 new jobs to the state’s economy and to increase state GDP by $660 million to $830 million a year.

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