Cost, duplication are reasons the state should hold up on health care bill
Hartford Courant Editorial
April 07, 2011
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's change of heart this week on SustiNet — the proposed state program to provide health care coverage to the non-insured, the poor, government employees and eventually everyone — makes sense.
Once a supporter at least of the "goals" of SustiNet, Mr. Malloy had grown increasingly skeptical until Tuesday, when he finally said that he does "not think this piece of legislation is the right vehicle" for achieving health care reform in Connecticut.
The governor is right, for several reasons.
"The cost is too big," Mr. Malloy said, referring to a report issued by the nonpartisan state Office of Fiscal Analysis, which estimated that coverage for the noninsured and the poor could cost the state up to $483 million annually in new expenditures.
The last thing the state needs is nearly a half-billion dollars in new costs at a time when the Malloy administration and the General Assembly are trying to balance a budget that is $3.3 billion or more in deficit. To incur additional major costs would be irresponsible.
SustiNet supporters heatedly dispute the OFA analysis, calling it flawed, and say the plan could save the state $50 million or more annually.
At the very least, the OFA analysis projecting huge losses should be vetted and reconciled with the claims that the new state insurance program would save money. Something doesn't add up.
Mr. Malloy is also correct in his concerns about SustiNet's structure — about handing decision-making responsibility for the state's multibillion-dollar health care obligations "to a quasi-public authority that has almost no accountability to taxpayers." No other state has done that.
Finally, as the governor noted Tuesday, "we're only one year on from the federal government creating health care for all." Its benefits are beginning to reach the states and more are in the pipeline — as long as congressional Republicans don't tamper with the federal act and its funding. Does Connecticut really need a separate state-run program? Apparently not.
Mr. Malloy's concerns and questions about SustiNet are soundly based. The legislation — it has passed three committees and has three to go — should be put on hold until its costs and its need have been well established.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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