ICYMI: Connecticut Economic Leaders Warn Of Higher Costs, Job Losses Under State Government Option
HARTFORD, Conn. – As some Connecticut politicians continue to push for the creation of a new state government-controlled health insurance system, also known as the state government option, the Hartford Courant reports that the state’s economic leaders are warning the proposal “would result in a cost shift to private purchasers of health care, lead to higher taxes or both.”
The Courant reports that “[p]rivate insurance companies are an economic mainstay in Connecticut,powering as many as 50,000 direct and indirect jobs related to the industry. The Connecticut Economic Resource Center estimates that the insurance industry contributes about $15 billion to the state’s economy.” However, a state government option that undermines the private coverage market in Connecticut could put jobs at risk, at a time when many families are already struggling from economic pain and job losses driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Courant also notes that the “push to expand [state] government-sponsored insurance comes as the federal government, through the newly enacted American Rescue Plan, is funding a massive expansion of Obamacare and the state insurance exchanges, including Access Health Connecticut. Gov. Lamont, who opposes the Lembo-endorsed plan, says he favors expanding coverage through Access Health Connecticut, which offers federally-subsidized health coverage to more than 100,000 state residents through private insurance companies.”
In fact, a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) finds that “the number of people eligible for a subsidy to purchase Marketplace coverage has increased 20 percent from 18.1 million to 21.8 million with passage of” the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), while “the majority of uninsured people (63 percent) are now eligible for financial assistance through the Marketplaces, Medicaid, or Basic Health Plans. In fact, more than four out of 10 uninsured people are eligible for a free or nearly free health plan through one of these programs.”
The Associated Press reports that ARPA represents “the biggest expansion of federal help for health insurance since the Obama-era Affordable Care Act,” and separate steps are already underway to extend open enrollment in the federal health care marketplace, eliminate ineffective red tape that can prevent Americans from accessing coverage options and urge the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, a recent poll conducted by Locust Street Group on behalf of Connecticut’s Health Care Futurefinds that a majority of Connecticut voters do not support the proposed state government option and are satisfied with their current health coverage and care. The poll of 800 likely voters in Connecticut reveals that a majority want lawmakers to build on and improve the current health care system rather than start over with a new state government-controlled health insurance system such as the state government option.
The poll’s key findings include:
- A majority of Connecticut voters do NOT support the state government option (only 36 percent support).
- 80 percent of voters prefer for lawmakers to BUILD ON Connecticut’s health care system rather than create a new state government option.
- Voters are especially CONCERNED about the impacts of the state government option on access to quality care (77 percent), jobs/economic growth (74 percent), and costs (72 percent).
- 82 percent of voters are UNWILLING to pay more in health care costs and 78 percent are UNWILLING to pay more in taxes to finance the cost of the state option.
In fact, the poll shows that during this critical time Connecticut voters want state lawmakers to focus on jobs and the economy: 60 percent of voters ranked the economy and jobs as one of their two most important issues for the state government to address, while 48 percent ranked taxes as one of their top two most important issues. Only 30 percent of voters believe health care is among the two most important issues for state lawmakers to address.