Senator Witkos Wants Legislators’ Pay to Cover Costs of all New Health Mandates

April 21, 2010

State Senator Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, wants legislators to be on the hook for all new health insurance mandates. An amendment offered by Senator Witkos would reduce the pay for each member of the General Assembly by the average increase in the premium of each authorized unfunded health mandate created by the legislature. He offered the amendment today on SB 92 that requires health insurance companies to cover an additional bottle of eye drops for policy holders at daycare facilities. According to Sen. Witkos, it is easy for the General Assembly to vote on a health mandate but it becomes a lot more difficult when members of the legislature have to pay for it.

“At the beginning of the legislative session people were saying that the economy is job #1. Go and talk to any small business and they will tell you that the cost of mandates are a huge impediment on their ability to succeed, because health care costs are out of their control,” said Sen. Witkos. “Mandates are easy when you don’t have to pay for them, I think this amendment shows how much more difficult it is when you actually do have to pay for them.”

Under Sen. Witkos’ amendment, for each new health insurance requirement mandated by the General Assembly and becomes law, the pay for each member of the legislature would be reduced by the projected average amount of increase in group and individual health insurance premiums for an enrollee in the state as a result of such mandated health benefit. This average would be determined by the Insurance Commissioner in consultation with The University of Connecticut Center for Public Health and Health Policy.

During today’s debate Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, opposed the amendment on grounds that legislators in the General Assembly have not received a pay raise in eight years. In addition, he said that legislators have essentially taken a pay cut by not receiving a COLA (cost of living adjustment) over the same period of time. The amendment failed along party lines.

“The mandates we enact are inevitably passed on to consumers,” said Sen. Witkos. “This amendment should put that into perspective. I think the vote indicates just that.”