Insurance and Real Estate Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5013

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE BOARD MEMBERS OF THE CONNECTICUT HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE.

Vote Date:

2/21/2012

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/14/2012

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Insurance and Real Estate Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To add consumers, small employers, and the Health Care Advocate or designee there of as voting board members of the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

LCO 1161: states that the consumer added to the board members shall not be a small employer as well. And removes July 1, 2012 as the effective date because this will be in effect immediately upon passage.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Victoria Veltri, Healthcare Advocate & General Counsel spoke in support of the bill saying it will “give the populations considered in the statute a real voice”. Also she pointed out “the vesting of voting rights will actively promote the spirit of the law and facilitate great transparency.”

Kevin Lembo, State Comptroller agreed with the changes the bill would make. He stated “by including consumer and small business voices as voting members on the exchange, this bill will allow for greater diversity and better collaboration.” Also adding that if this bill passes “the health insurance exchange will be a strong tool in providing greater access to health insurance coverage to the uninsured in our state.”

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Jill Zorn, Senior Program Officer, Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut expressed she was in favor of the bill but presented further concerns. She asked that there be two consumers and two small business representatives urging that “the legislation must be written to assure these four new members truly represent the future customers of the Exchange.” She wished to add language that would “assure that the CEO hired to run the Exchange did not recently leave the employment of an insurance company that might compete in the Exchange.” Finally she referenced the “lack of transparency regarding Board decision-making is troubling.”

Susan Nesci, Vice President, Arthritis Foundation explained that she and the foundation were “concerned about the lack of consumer/patient as a voting member on the new Health Insurance Exchange Board.” Including that “none of the voting members appears to represent consumers.' She ended with “encouraging the Committee to adopt the provisions to provide a voting member to people with chronic diseases, who will be served by the system the Board designs.”

Marcia DuFore, Executive Director, North Central Regional Mental Health Board offered support in her testimony stating “in our experience as monitors and advocates for high quality mental health services in Connecticut, we have seen first-hand the impact that strong consumer representation and broad stakeholder representation can have for ensuring that services are affordable and accessible for all people, including those with disabilities and chronic diseases, their families and caregivers.” She furthered her stance with “the presence of consumers and small businesses, the exclusion of those with a financial interest, and the voting membership of Connecticut's Health Care Advocate will promote the balance of cost and quality, patient protection and accountability are achieved.”

Carolyn Malon, DDS, President-Elect, Connecticut State Dental Association expressed a need to add to the bill the way it is. She stated “it is important that any plan considered by the Exchange offer a dental component to it.” Including that “we strongly suggest that the Exchange Board establish a dental subcommittee composed of dental carriers, the CSDA, and other stakeholders in the state to provide recommendations on dental coverage issues”. Suggesting that “Coordination between medical and dental plans will also be crucial to success” she added “There are health care situations that exist where an underlying medical condition may necessitate a dental intervention and there must be coordination between the medical and dental plans”.

Karen Schuessier, Director, Citzens for Economic Opportunity agreed with the concept of the bill and offered additions to the language. She commented that “if we are to have an effective health insurance Exchange, insurers can not be in the driver's seat.” Expressing her feelings on consumers on the Board she said “it is only logical that since so many residents of Connecticut do not have health insurance and since 1 in 10 residents are expected to use the Exchange, they should have input on the Exchange”. She concluded with “this legislation needs to be fixed immediately and the consumers should be at the table by March 1” urging that “these decisions will have lasting consequences for generations to come so we cannot delay. It is crucial that we do not turn health care reform over to the very people who opposed and lobbied against health care reform.”

Tom Swan, Executive Director, Connecticut Citizen Action Group showed support for this bill but thought it could be strengthened by saying “we believe that there needs to be four consumer positions added and we would recommend that they be appointed by the Sustinet Cabinet.” Also saying that “the effective date of July is inadequate changes need to happen immediately before too many large decisions are made.”

Lori Pelletier, Secretary-Treasurer, The Connecticut AFL-CIO Wrote in her testimony of support “by simply adding three additional members to this board we demonstrate the value of having direct consumer and advocate input.” She also added “by utilizing the experience and voice of the Office of the Healthcare Advocate and giving them voting authority this bill makes a good board even better.”

Cheryl Forbes as a small business owner herself spoke in favor of the bill. She pressed that “adding two consumers and two small business representatives to the Board will go a long way in helping to create health coverage options that meet the needs of Connecticut residents.” She claimed “Connecticut is looking to small businesses to drive economic recovery and create jobs. Yet small business and the consumers expected to fuel that growth have virtually no say in helping to solve one of the biggest barriers to economic success.”


Antonio Paulo Pinto
expressed approval stating that “it is vitally important that those that are most affected by the decisions of this Board be able to participate in the decision making process in order for making appropriate and insightful choices in the Exchange
's operations and health plan offerings.” Emphasized the importance of having “individuals from very small micro-enterprises and independent sole proprietors' participate” stating “these are the people creating jobs in our State; and risking their own personal assets and reputations to build tomorrow's great companies.” He added that “If individuals and Small Business owners that are most affected by the operations of the Exchange have no 'true' voice; we could fail to assist them.”

The following also testified in favor of the bill and submitted written testimony:

Ellen Andrews, PhD, Executive Director, Connecticut health Policy Project

Daniel Hayes, Student, University of Connecticut School of Social Work

Matt Brokman, Council 4 AFSCME

Claudia Epright

Jennifer Jaff, Executive Director, Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness

Kevin Galvin, Chair, Small Business For A Healthy Connecticut

James Stirling

Lance Johnson, AARP Connecticut Volunteer

The following also submitted written testimony in support of the bill:

Barbara Edinberg, Director of Research, Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition

American Cancer Society

William McGirr

Robert Kennedy, Executive Vice President, The Connecticut Association of Realtors

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Expressed

Reported by: Branden Johnson

Date: 2/27/12