Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bill adding consumer and small business voices to Exchange Board passes Insurance Committee unanimously

Yesterday the legislature’s Insurance Committee unanimously passed HB-5013 with substitute language. The new bill language adds one consumer and one small business representative to the CT Health Insurance Exchange Board and makes the State Health Care Advocate a voting member. The bill will be effective upon passage. The bipartisan bill partially addresses concerns raised by advocates, small businesses, editorial boards and others about the lack of consumer and small business voices on the Exchange. The bill now goes to the House floor.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Advocates speak up in Exchange Board meeting

Yesterday, advocates spoke out during the CT Health Insurance Exchange Board meeting to protest the lack of consumer voices on the Board. The Board has been widely criticized for lacking any voting consumer members, despite federal regulations that call for consumers to comprise a majority of voting members. Several members of the Board called for more transparency, better communication and regular opportunities for public comment. Jeanette DeJesus, Special Advisor to the Governor on Health Reform, expressed support for the protestors. The Board is quickly staffing up and expects to have most of the important operational pieces in place by the next meeting scheduled for March 15th. Advocates have called for legislation, effective immediately, to add consumer and small business votes to the Board before the next meeting to ensure stakeholder input into those critical decisions. CT is among a small minority of states moving this quickly to establish exchanges; most states have not yet decided whether to run their exchange themselves or let the federal government do it. The Board has hired a public relations firm to collect input from stakeholder groups including consumers, brokers, small businesses, insurers and providers. The consultants will be holding meetings across the state in the next week.  Those meetings were to be invitation-only but Board members at the meeting insisted in opening them to the public.
Ellen Andrews

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Insurance public hearing to add consumers and small businesses to insurance exchange board

Today, the Insurance and Real Estate Committee held a public hearing on HB-5013 – a very weak bill that would have added only one, narrowly defined consumer advocate and one small business person to the exchange but not before July 1st. It also would have given the State Health Care Advocate a vote But again not until July 1st – safely after all the important decisions have been made. The Board has been criticized for having three members representing insurance interests and no voting consumer representatives. The Board is now choosing a CEO and a team of other senior management (at eye-popping salaries) and considering whether to cede the small business exchange to CBIA. Many people, including consumers, advocates, brokers, small businesses, providers and labor representatives, spoke to the need for at least two consumer reps and two more small business people on the Board. Speakers also emphasized that the CEO being hired should be independent of the insurance industry, to help build some credibility for the exchange among the people who will rely on it for affordable coverage in 2014 when the individual mandate becomes effective. Speakers also strongly opposed allowing CBIA to run any part of the exchange. CBIA has lobbied against state and national reform in the past; handing the exchange to opponents of reform invites failure. Speakers also asked for the legislature to clarify that the Ethics Commission enforces conflict of interest provisions in the original law, specifically excluding Board members affiliated with insurance companies.
Ellen Andrews

Monday, February 6, 2012

CT Health Reform Dashboard -- 10.4% progress to date

How is CT doing reforming our broken health system? Are we making smart choices? Are we taking advantage of opportunities? Having trouble keeping up with the many moving parts? Visit our CT Health Reform Dashboard at