ICYMI: Costs Of State Government Option ‘Would Be Borne Out By Connecticut Taxpayers’

HARTFORD, Conn. – As Connecticut politicians continue to debate a proposal to create a new state government-controlled health insurance system, also known as the state government option, Garrett Sheehan, president and CEO of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce writes in the Shelton Herald that the proposal would “anoint the state as an insurance company using tax dollars as a backstop on plan overruns.” 

Sheehan warns that the costs “would be borne out by Connecticut taxpayers,” and continues, “the state would be pushing a plan that targets one of our homegrown industries, insurance, with a solution that results in no net cost savings. Connecticut should be focused on lowering costs, not increasing them.”

As the Hartford Courant reports, “[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.”

Meanwhile, a recent poll conducted by Locust Street Group on behalf of Connecticut’s Health Care Future finds 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 what’s working in health care 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.