Foundation Presents Plan To Provide Universal Health Coverage
January 14, 2009
About 1,000 people packed the Great Hall at Hartford's Union Station Tuesday evening for the presentation of a comprehensive plan to eventually provide health care coverage to all state residents.
The proposal is called SustiNet, Latin for "sustains," and is drawn from the state motto to "reflect the proposal's commitment to health and sustainability," according to the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut.
Several years of research and work by a host of interest groups — private-sector unions, religious organizations, state unions and business owners — led to the proposal, said Janet Davenport, vice president of communications for the foundation.
The foundation hopes that the proposal becomes a bill and goes before the General Assembly during the current session.
State Sen. Jonathan Harris, who spoke at Tuesday's rally and led the crowd in a chant of "We're going to fight, fight, fight, health care is a right," said SustiNet will be one of the proposals legislators examine as they work to develop a health care plan for the state.
"Something is going to happen" on health care, Harris said. "SustiNet is something that will be put on the table. They have some good ideas and some bold ideas, and we will review them all."
Legislators will also hear from others with an interest in what the General Assembly does, such as insurance companies.
"We're going to lay it out and come up with a plan that works economically, fiscally and politically," Harris said.
SustiNet would provide insurance to anyone who wants it and emphasize preventive care and the management of chronic illnesses. The plan, which would begin enrollment in 2011, would create a large health insurance pool by combining state employees, retirees and people covered by state assistance programs.
The pool would be open to the public, people with inadequate insurance and employees of small businesses, nonprofits and municipalities. Eventually, it would be open to large employers, as well, but they would have to buy the coverage.
SustiNet would not replace insurance companies, but would compete with them and hopefully drive down costs, Davenport said.
Mattie Hamber of Manchester said many of her relatives are without health care coverage, and such a system would be a help to them.
"It's what we need," she said. "I want to see it happen."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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