Senator Kelly Opposes Bill Creating State Healthcare Pool

June 7, 2011

HARTFORD – State Senator Kevin Kelly (R-21) stood in opposition to legislation expanding state-run healthcare.

“We need to focus on jobs and putting Connecticut families back to work,” said Senator Kelly. “This bill is an expensive distraction from that most important purpose. We should be fixated on growing our state’s economy and supporting taxpayers first and foremost, but this bill fails at that.”

House Bill 6308, An Act Concerning Healthcare Reform, allows non-state public employers, municipal-related employers, certain nonprofit employers and labor unions to join the state employee health plan.

Senator Kelly spoke against the bill outlining its adverse effects on the state and economy.

“This new state-run insurance plan will compete directly with Connecticut insurance businesses,” stated Senator Kelly. “And as a direct competitor, it will seek to get more members from private insurance companies, putting them out of business and leading to job loss and unemployment at a time when we can least afford it. This is yet another example of Connecticut being closed for business.”

Commenting further on the bill, Senator Kelly stated, “The governor said that state employee benefits are unsustainable and that we cannot afford covering the 45,000 state employees we have. Yet, the General Assembly is going to add more people to the same state employee health plan and claim it will save money. Quite frankly, that makes no sense.

“This bill presents too great a risk to the state. Connecticut is a self-insured entity, and that puts the taxpayer on the hook paying for all the medical claims. Since no one can project how many people will enter into the pool, or if they are high risk, there is no telling what type of increased expense this measure will impose on taxpayers.”

Senate Bill 6308 will require the state Comptroller to offer health coverage through what is called a ‘partnership plan.’ It also gives the Comptroller the authority to merge, or pool, that new plan with the state employee health plan.

Proponents argue that this legislation will rein in healthcare costs by joining resources and increasing access, but Senator Kelly opposed that argument offering amendments to protect taxpayers by placing protections on the insurer and insured.

Of the 10 amendments Senator Kelly offered, he said, “I proposed amending the bill to reduce the new state bureaucracy it creates, to protect jobs, to make sure the plan conforms to federal law, to remove the unfunded mandates on our towns, to require the plan to be fully funded, and to insure against the risk of the taxpayers picking up yet another tab. Citizens are saying enough is enough, and so am I.”

Senator Kelly closed his argument by saying that merging state and municipal plans becomes too costly. “Insurance is based on the cost associated with risk and claims, not the number of insured. When talking about healthcare, increasing numbers in and of itself is not going to save money.”

If implemented, enrollment would start in 2012 for municipal employers and in 2013 for nonprofit employers and unions.

The Senate passed the bill Monday along party lines, 22-14.