Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Where Are The Consumers in the Consumer Committee??
I attended this week’s CT Health Insurance Consumer Experience and Outreach Committee meeting to give the Committee an update on the success of the previous week’s Advocate’s “Conversation with Kevin Counihan” event sponsored by Small Business For A Healthy Connecticut and CT Health Policy Project. My point was to emphasize the importance of consumer involvement at the upcoming combined meetings of the Consumer and Qualified Health Plan Committees. My attention was immediately drawn to all the empty chairs at the Committee table. Of the fifteen Committee members listed on the Exchange web site (a list that is not accurate), seven were present and one was participating by phone. Of the eight Committee Members attending, three were Exchange Board Members. With consumer voices being so few in the Exchange structure the Committee absences are particularly troubling. WHERE IS THE CONUMER’S VOICE IN THIS? Why were the seven Committee members not there? Why was the Co-chair not there? Where were the consumers to access their right to address the Committee? The audience was primarily made up of insurance industry representatives and lobbyists. I commented that there were probably more folks in the room with (.Gov) email addresses than there should have been or needed to be for a meeting of consumers. With nearly half of the Committee members missing, what are the Committee members that were present going to do to impress the importance of attendance to the members who were missing? Might it make sense to have Committee meeting times after normal working hours to better accommodate the consumer audience? Might the Committee adopt the practice of having Public Comment at both beginning and end of each meeting again to better accommodate the consumer audience? What are the Committee’s plans to have consumer attendance at the upcoming combined Committee meeting? I’m not sure how we can expect the general public to take the implementation of Health Care Reform seriously when the people charged with representing us do not show up to meetings. Kevin Galvin