April 28, 2009

Push for state health care pool

Press release from the state House Democrats:



State Representatives John Geragosian (D-New Britain), Peter Tercyak (D-New Britain), Tim O’Brien (D-New Britain) andBetty Boukus (D-Plainville, New Britain)  joined Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz Tuesday at a regional roundtable with area small business owners an non-profits to discuss business-friendly health care policies that will help New Britain area companies thrive. 


The General Assembly is currently debating legislation to save small businesses thousands of dollars annually in employee health care costs. The plan would open the state employee health insurance plan to small businesses, municipal employees and non-profits. 


Rep. Geragosian said, “You save money when you buy in bulk.  That is the simple principle behind the Connecticut Healthcare Partnership.  If you were able to join the huge state employee health care pool, your costs would drop dramatically.”


There are currently more than 200,000 people in the state insurance pool. 


New Britain residents Amy Gladysz and her husband John, owners of Orbitech Satellite Services in Plainville, have seen their premiums multiply over the last several years.


“We pay thousands of dollars a year for our insurance policy, but the prescription limits are so low, that we spend thousands of dollars more for the medication we need to stay healthy” Amy Gladysz said, “If our business had access to the state plan, we would save substantially on out of pocket expenses.”


Rep. Tercyak said, “Between co-pays and yearly benefit maximums too many folks are finding that their insurance isn't adequate.  One local business owner has insurance, she told me, but she's developed diabetes and now she learns that she her yearly maximum only covers three months of meds and testing supplies.  Three months.  We can do better than that for her and for other business people.  I say they deserve the choice.  I'm sure a lot of them will find the state employees' insurance options are comprehensive, attractive choices.”   


“The implementation of health care pooling will provide an opportunity for thousands of our fellow citizens to be able to obtain quality health care protection at an affordable cost," Rep. O'Brien said. “Municipalities, small businesses and non-profits will be able to participate and that participation will be voluntary, not mandatory. This is a landmark first step to that needs to be taken now.”


Rep. Boukus said, “Health care costs are making it difficult for businesses to grow and provide jobs in our communities. Government must improve the business climate and lowering health care costs is a good place to start.”


Thomas Morrow, Executive Director of Bristol Community Organization, said that like many small businesses and non-profits, BCO has seen its healthcare costs skyrocket over the last several years. In order to continue offering health benefits, the agency was forced to increase the employee-paid share, by switching to health savings accounts (HSAs).


“My employees complained that health savings accounts were too onerous to navigate and the out-of-pocket costs were too high. The following year, we offered a traditional plan in addition to HSAs and every employee opted into the traditional plan, even though the premiums were higher,” Morrow said. “Having access to the state plan would bring our costs down, while enabling us to offer our staff the quality health benefits they deserve.”


The lawmakers met with businesses owners Tuesday at the New Britain YMCA.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

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