State Lawmakers Change Public Option Bill

The change took place before sending it to another committee.

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Lawmakers on the Insurance and Real Estate Committee were divided over language creating a state-run health insurance option to compete with private insurance plans.

“Not only are we in a health care crisis right now due to the global pandemic but we’re also in an insurance crisis,” Sen. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, said. 

Lesser, co-chair of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, said the public option bill will help create competition in the insurance marketplace. 

“Many small businesses are hanging on by a thread and this bill is a good-faith effort to try and address those issues, to make new affordable options available to nonprofits, small businesses and to Taft-Hartley labor unions,” Lesser said.  

But Lesser’s co-chair and fellow Democrat, Rep. Kerry Wood, didn’t feel the bill offers enough protections.

Wood proposed an amendment that would require the state-run plan to follow the same rules as private insurance companies and it would require Auditors of Public Accounts to audit the program. 

“This would ease our concerns about this affecting our state budget, and it would put in the consumer protections,” Wood said. 

“Once we start pulling plans out of the fully insured market into a public option we threaten the funding,” she added. 

Lesser said he has concerns about the amendment, but voted in favor of the bill. 

“The bill before us is a good faith effort to tackle the price of health insurance in Connecticut, expand coverage and provide relief to small businesses,” Lesser said. 

Republican Sen. Tony Hwang objected to the process. 

“It’s a bad bill, but I love the idea so let’s get it through. That’s not good lawmaking,” Hwang said. 

He says he would prefer to work together on the best bill possible, but that’s not what happened. 

“For us to set forth this bill on its incompleteness and its flawed process is a mark on us all,” Hwang said.

The bill passed 12 to 6 and now heads to the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee for approval.

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