State lawmakers are criticizing Gov. Jodi M. Rell and the Department of Social Services for going forward with a subsidized health insurance plan for uninsured residents without addressing their concerns about the plan's coverage and whether it is financially sustainable.
Rell on Thursday released a request for proposals for a Charter Oak Health Plan, designed to provide health insurance with premiums for as little as $75 a month and as high as $250 a month.
The plan would cover adults of all incomes who do not have medical benefits through their employers and those who don't quality for the state's Husky Medicaid or Medicare plan.
State Sen. Jonathan A. Harris, D-West Hartford, co-chairman of the legislature's human services committee, said Friday he is disappointed with the department's lack of response to questions that he and other legislators asked during a Dec. 5 forum on the plan.
"We all have the same goal of providing affordable, meaningful health care to the uninsured. The legislature gave the governor the power to put this plan forward. But this is not a one-way street; there has to be discussion and cooperation. We need to know, bottom line, if [the plan] is financially sustainable. And so far we've heard nothing."
The legislature appropriated $11 million so that Rell could sell her plan to private insurance companies.
State Sen. Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, questions whether the insurance industry can deliver quality health care for premiums between $75 and $250 a month. He questioned whether the $11 million in state funds is enough to cover premium assistance if enrollment is greater than what the state projects.
"I look forward to seeing what her [request for proposals] brings and if her proposed costs and enrollment figures are truly realistic," Williams said.
Rell spokesperson Chris Cooper said the governor's office is optimistic the state will receive a good response from insurance companies.
"It is financially sustainable. This was never intended as a program that could provide the richest and highest level of services to 100 percent of the people. It's a very good comprehensive plan, a targeted plan, the first in the nation, that will serve a significant need," Cooper said.
Williams is also concerned with the plan's 20 percent co-pay for laboratory, X-rays and diagnostic services.
"A 20 percent co-pay on diagnostics like strep screenings and cholesterol tests may not break anyone's bank, but when we start talking about 20 percent of colonoscopies and endoscopies, MRIs, CT scans and biopsies, the affordability of 20 percent for low-income individuals and families really comes into question," Williams said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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