One year later, national health care reform provisions are providing immediate benefits for Connecticut’s residents and small businesses
(HARTFORD, CT) – On the one year anniversary of President Obama signing national health reform legislation into law, Governor Dannel P. Malloy highlighted what Connecticut has already been able to accomplish. Earlier today, Governor Malloy attended a press conference with health reform advocates and other supporters of the law to mark the anniversary.
“Every day, state workers, health care providers, insurers, advocates, and many more are working to implement health reform. Every day, thousands of Connecticut residents benefit from changes that have occurred under health reform. Health reform is not 2014 – it is occurring now,” said Governor Malloy.
Governor Malloy highlighted the following provisions of the health reform law benefiting Connecticut residents and businesses:
Helping small business owners afford coverage. Approximately 54,000 small businesses in Connecticut are eligible for tax credits to help make quality health insurance affordable for their families and their employees.
Reducing costs for seniors. In 2010, more than 42,000 Medicare beneficiaries who hit the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole” received $250 tax free rebates to help pay for their prescription drugs. In 2011, beneficiaries with high costs will receive a 50% discount for covered brand-name prescriptions in the donut hole. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole completely. Beginning this year, at least 560,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Connecticut can receive free preventive services – like mammograms and colonoscopies – as well as a free annual wellness visit from their doctor.
Consumer protections in insurance. Individuals with insurance are now free from worrying about losing their coverage due to a mistake on an application, or having it capped unexpectedly if someone is in an accident or becomes sick.
o Ban on rescinding coverage except in cases of fraud. Insurance companies are now banned from dropping people from coverage when they get sick, protecting the 154,000 individuals who purchase insurance in the individual market from dishonest insurance practices.
o Ban on lifetime limits and regulation of annual limits. Federal health reform bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits, ensuring that the 2.2 million Connecticut residents with private insurance coverage never have to worry about their coverage running out and facing catastrophic out-of-pocket costs. The 2 million residents of Connecticut with health insurance from their employer, along with anyone who signs up with a new insurance plan in Connecticut, are also benefiting from tighter regulation of insurance plans’ use of annual limits.
o Extending coverage to young adults. Insurance companies are now required to allow parents to keep their children up to age 26 without job-based coverage on their insurance plans. This provision can bring relief to the more than 9,050 eligible young adults in Connecticut.
o Affordable insurance for uninsured with pre-existing conditions. $50 million federal dollars are available to Connecticut starting July 1 to provide coverage for uninsured residents with pre-existing medical conditions through a new transitional high-risk pool program, funded entirely by the Federal government. The program is a bridge to 2014 when Americans will have access to affordable coverage options in the new health insurance exchanges and insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions. If states choose not to run the program, the Federal government will administer the program for those residents.
Improvements to and expansion of Medicaid. Last year, Connecticut was the first state in the nation to permanently add low-income adults to its Medicaid program under federal health reform. Although states are required to cover this population starting in 2014, Connecticut benefited from federal funding to enroll them right away.
Connecticut is currently pursuing an option to establish Medicaid Health Homes with federal financial support under health reform. With the program, beneficiaries with two or more chronic conditions, including serious mental illness or substance use disorders, would receive more coordinated treatment for their conditions.
Momentum to developing the Exchange. Connecticut is currently using federal grant funds to plan for implementation of the Health Insurance Exchange – a marketplace for individuals, families, and small businesses that will offer a choice of health plans, provide clear information about those plans, set rules for the insurance market, and provide tax credits or other subsidies to make the purchase of insurance more affordable for certain populations.
Connecticut is working with a consortium of New England states to develop information technology components for the Exchange that are consumer-focused, cost effective, reusable, and sustainable.
Within the next four weeks, officials will be going out to communities. The planning team is scheduling open public forums around the state in April and May to ensure an inclusive process by informing individuals, families, and other stakeholders about what the federal Exchange will mean for them, and soliciting feedback in order develop strategies that are responsive to the diverse needs of Connecticut residents.
Connecticut has drafted and is negotiating the details of legislation that will enable the state to create the systems and structure needed to establish the Exchange.
Unique programs across Connecticut. Through grants and demonstration projects, federal health reform gives states the flexibility and resources needed to implement the law in the ways that work for each state.
The State of Connecticut has received federal health reform grant funds for diverse initiatives such as pregnancy and STD prevention, HIV testing, smoking cessation, prevention of child abuse and neglect, assistance with health insurance appeals, and enhanced review of health insurance premium increases. Community providers and other organizations across Connecticut are also eligible to receive health reform grant funds.
Just within the last month, Connecticut has been exploring new opportunities for the implementation of health programs to provide services and coverage aimed at the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Please visit the DPH Health Reform site for additional detail: www.ct.gov/dph/healthcarereform
For Immediate Release: March 23, 2011
Contact: David Bednarz
Facebook: Office of Governor Dannel P. Malloy