Republicans in the Connecticut, fresh off a beating at the polls in November that saw them lose five seats, want to work on the issue of health care as a way to start 2019 on the right foot.
“I think Connecticut has gone a long way in a bipartisan manner to make sure that they’re going to have the best coverage at the best price and I think this new session we’re going to be able to bring that to a different degree,” said Sen. Len Fasano, (R–North Haven), who will assume the role as Minority Leader in 2019. He says the state has the chance to, “Offer more products for less price to more people.”
Fasano wrote to top Democrats and Governor-Elect Ned Lamont asking them to form a committee tasked with coming up with actionable solutions to lower the costs of premiums and provide better health care for residents.
He proposes having different branches and caucuses make appointments in addition to having people like Connecticut’s Health Care Advocate and CEO of Access Health Connecticut sit on the panel.
Colleen Brunetti in West Hartford advocates for better health care and more affordable plans on a regular basis. She also lives with a life-threatening pre-existing condition, pulmonary hypertension, which could lead to heart failure. She says she likes the idea of a panel specifically tasked with addressing the cost of health insurance.
“Absolutely, if we can come to the table in a bipartisan way that can meet everyone’s needs, that’s fantastic. The problem is when patients get stuck in the middle of everyone’s firing squads.”
Brunetti has pharmaceutical bills that cost $7,000 per month, and says she knows of many families around the state who could the kind of relief Fasano is looking to accomplish.
She said, “I worry that the cost of health care will balloon to the point where even though we are well-employed and doing the best we can to be responsible that we simply can no longer afford it. I worry that the fights between high drug prices and insurance companies get too big and the patients become the casualty.”
The announcement from Fasano comes less than a week after a federal judge in Texas ruled the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. Senate Democrats would not comment on the idea, and a message left for the Lamont transition was not returned.
Only one member of the Senate Republican Caucus voted to allow Access Health Connecticut, the state’s health care marketplace, to be created at the start of the decade. Fast forward to this year when almost the entire caucus voted to protect essential health coverage for things like prenatal and maternal care, as well as emergency room visits.
Fasano says he thinks there an opportunity to focus on Connecticut residents with the new panel.
“We have to say, look, forget Washington, we’ve got to make our own policy in the state of Connecticut and drive premiums down.”