NB Politicus

Lowering Municipal Health Insurance Premiums: New Britain Should Adopt Partnership Plan, Join State Pool

Posted in health care, municipal budget by nbpoliticus on March 18, 2012

Energy in all its forms and health insurance are two of the most rapidly rising costs in most household budgets.  Municipal government is no different.  Lowering these two items in local government would be a tax stabilizer and would free up public dollars for schools, public safety and other essentials.

 In 2012 there is an option on the table to knock down the city of New Britain costs for health insurance without diminishing coverage. It will allow cities and towns to participate in the pooling of coverage offered to the state’s workforce.  State Comptroller Kevin Lembo last week announced that his office has analyzed implementation in 50 cities and towns, including New Britain, and has concluded  30% of towns would have savings of 5% or more in premiums

For cash-strapped cities such as New Britain the new Health Care Partnership law enacted last year offers the administration of Mayor Tim O’Brien an opportunity to save upwards of $900,000 or more on premiums for health insurance coverage of municipal employees.  Used in states as near as blue Massachusetts and far away as red Utah,  insurance pooling takes advantage of a larger pool of employees — spreading the risk — to maintain similar or even improved coverage on individual and family plans.

“The CT Partnership Plan is officially open for business to all non-state government employees, including Connecticut towns, cities and boards of education,” Lembo said. “The goal is to provide towns and cities with lower health care costs and long-term price stability, while also offering quality health care to employees. Our initial analysis of more than 50 municipal employers revealed significant savings of five to eight percent in some cases – real money for municipalities seeking local property tax relief.”

New Britain and other local governments will be able to join the partnership July 1, the start of the fiscal year.

Dodd: If You Have The Right To A Lawyer, You Should Have The Right To A Doctor

Posted in Chris Dodd, health care by nbpoliticus on April 3, 2010

Since President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act,  Chris Dodd, the senior Connecticut senator not seeking re-election, has been talking up the legislation as a landmark law that honors the memory of his late colleague, Ted Kennedy. 

He did so repeatedly  in Connecticut this past week in a coordinated counter to the GOP’s destructive call for repeal before the ink had dried from President Obama’s signing pens.

Long-time Dodd observers shouldn’t be surprised when Dodd, who has been known to carry the Constitution in his back pocket, invokes a constitutional argument for health care as a right,  not just a commodity for those with the means to pay for it.

“I suppose — and history may judge us accordingly — that while everyone is entitled to a lawyer, regardless of what you’ve been charged with, that you don’t have a right to a doctor,” Dodd said at the February 25th “summit” in Washington alluding to the guarantees all citizens have to legal help.  

Dodd  repeated  that point again to kick off a week when  Congress people have come home to defend their votes on the reconciliation act and the modest steps toward reform in both health and the way Americans pay and have access to college.

Equating the “right to a lawyer” to “the right to a doctor” is a compelling argument especially when GOP attorneys general and partisan opponents call for constitutional and legal moves to defeat the will of Congress and deny 32 million Americans the opportunity to get health coverage.

You can argue that everyone does have the “right” by going to the emergency room. But that common occurrence is the reason why health care costs are out of control and driving up premiums to intolerable levels. A system that relies on the emergency room to make treatment a right blows cost-effective preventive care out of the picture.

This legal defense of health care access, emphasized by Dodd but few others, bolsters the main economic arguments for passage. “For middle-class families, this legislation means real economic security. You’ll be able to count on health insurance that you can afford and that you can trust will be there for your when you need it. More low- and middle-income Connecticut families can send their kids to college without saddling them with a lifetime of crushing debt. And you’ll never again have to fear that an illness or injury will mean economic ruin,” said Dodd in a March 25th statement.

Here’s how Dodd breaks down the benefits from reform for Connecticut families:
•Provide tax credits for up to 37,600 Connecticut small businesses to help make coverage more affordable.

•Prohibit insurance companies from excluding coverage of pre-existing conditions for the 807,985 children in Connecticut, starting this year.

•Ensure affordable coverage options for 356,000 Connecticut residents who are uninsured and 154,000 Connecticut residents who purchase health insurance through the individual market.

•Provide tax credits for up to 242,000 people in Connecticut to help make health insurance more affordable

•Reduce family health insurance premiums by $1,780 – $2,540 for the same benefits, as compared to what they would be without health reform by 2016.

Those are persuasive numbers that Dodd and others use to support reform.  By elevating health care as a right for all citizens, Dodd makes the cause even stronger from the moral and legal perspective.

We hear on every cop show on television “you have the right to an attorney.” Health care reform means we’ll hear on every medical  show on television “you have the right to a doctor.”

Does New Britain Hospital Figure In Hartford Hospital’s Takeover Plans?

Posted in health care, hospitals by nbpoliticus on March 24, 2009

The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC), better known in these parts as New Britain General, has been more than an interested bystander in the debate over the future of John Dempsey Hospital at the University of Connecticut Health Center and its possible takeover by Hartford Hospital.

Recent press reports confirm that all area hospitals are concerned about where major medical facilities will be located and what institution or combination of institutions will control them.

Current legislation to build a new John Dempsey is facing dwindling chances because of its $475 million price in a bad recession. Gov. Rell withdrew support and the Legislature is facing some daunting fiscal issues that suggest this is not the year for any new initiatives. If ever built, a new Dempsey would then become part of the Hartford Hospital system.

With everyone’s eye on the state-financed hospital bill, however, there is unconfirmed but growing speculation in New Britain that New Britain General campus itself may be the takeover target of a revised Hartford Hospital plan. The New Britain Hospital, a comprehensive hospital with just over 400 beds, is minutes away from UCONN’s Dempsey teaching hospital that has over 200 beds. It would be a bigger and, in some ways, more useful acquisition for teaching and the delivery of medical care under the Hartford Hospital system.

HOCC’s New Britain General is one of New Britain’s largest employers with deep and longstanding ties and relationships in the community. Whatever the merits of mergers and consolidations in the hospital industry, a possible loss of local control and governance may be unsettling to many residents and the health care professionals who serve them.

If the speculation turns real, the community needs to be brought into the conversation sooner rather than later.