That’s why I was disappointed to see Democrats in Connecticut recently hold a partisan press conference about a “public option” with little detail instead of continuing a substantive dialogue about proposals that would actually reduce health care costs for all.

Connecticut must make health care more accessible and affordable. Republicans have pushed for years to make that a priority in our state, offering proposals to reduce premiums, better manage health care cost growth, and make prescription drugs more affordable. But instead of leading with a conversation on these ideas, Democrats are pushing for a partisan concept that not only fails to reduce health care costs, but also would put tens of thousands of good paying Connecticut jobs in jeopardy at a time when we are already dead last in the nation on jobs and income growth.

The “public option” idea would create a new government-run health care payment program that would directly compete with the private insurance industry. It would operate on an uneven playing field in which taxpayer dollars can be tapped at any time to backfill the government program losses.

The “public option” is not traditional insurance, as Democrats admitted last week. It is not regulated by the Connecticut Insurance Department, and most importantly, it does not guarantee the protections contained in the Affordable Care Act. It is another government-run health system. Anyone who relies on Medicaid or the VA system will tell you government-run health programs are not the gold standard people aspire to provide for their families.

The “public option” would also likely end up hurting the very people it promises to help. If premiums don’t cover claims, as Comptroller Kevin Lembo explained last week, “What happens is the backstop is the state of Connecticut. I’m not gonna like run away from that.” That means taxes will increase on Connecticut residents. What Democrats sell as affordable will make our state even more unaffordable and be yet another hit to families’ wallets at a time when they can least afford it. It will also destabilize the insurance market and lead to higher premiums on everyone who has private insurance.

Why so pessimistic about claims exceeding premiums? It’s already happening. Those pushing for a public option have said it would be modeled on the state’s “Partnership Plan,” which currently offers a healthcare payment product to municipalities and nonprofits who chose to participate. This is not the same healthcare program state employees enjoy. The Partnership Plan has run multi-million dollar deficits over the past few years, a warning sign we cannot ignore.

At a time when unemployment is at record levels and people have lost insurance through their employers or are struggling to pay their monthly premiums, it’s more important now than ever to get people quality affordable insurance as soon as possible. To do that, we need to get people back to work — not drive good paying jobs away — and we need to reduce premiums on all private insurance. The public option threatens both those goals.

Connecticut Republicans have a better plan that would reduce health insurance premiums by up to 20 percent, saving the average family more than $100 per month. We have put forward proposals to reduce prescription drug costs and to better manage the growing costs of healthcare utilizing methods that have already saved people in Massachusetts billions of dollars. We have also proposed legislation to investigate disparities in the health system so we can deliver on health equity for all people no matter gender, race or background.

We can do all this without hurting taxpayers and without threatening tens of thousands of quality jobs in one of our state’s flagship industries.

Our state’s history of bipartisanship on health care is a strength we should embrace. Connecticut’s bipartisan policies fighting back against surprise medical billing, facility fees, a lack of health care transparency and pharmacy gag clauses have become a model for other states. Republicans believe we must continue working together to advance these kinds of real solutions for Connecticut’s middle class families.

We must not be diverted by partisan proposals that will hurt the very people we all want to help.

Senate Republican Leader-elect Kevin Kelly represents the 21st Senate District including Monroe, Seymour, Shelton and Stratford. He has previously served as the lead Republican lawmaker on the General Assembly’s Insurance Committee, Aging Committee and Committee on Children and a former vice chair of the Human Services Committee.