#LivesOnTheLine Action 6.22.17

Thank you to EVERYONE who answered our call to send selfies and/or photos of loved ones. #LivesOnTheLine is headed to Philly today (follow us on Instagram and Twitter for updates) and will be represented at Senator Richard Blumenthal’s Emergency Field Hearing on the Senate’s health care bill (1:30 p.m. today at the New Haven City Hall).

The U.S. Senate is poised to take action to replace the Affordable Care Act before the end of June. The Senate bill was written in secret – and it is as bad as the House’s American Health Care Act.

We gathered photos to illustrate that millions of people will be hurt if the Senate votes to decimate our health care. Here’s a video from yesterday’s action.

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Foundation Opts to “Skip” Rate Hike Hearings

Over the years, the Foundation has advocated for consumers in the state Insurance Department’s annual health insurance rate hearings.  This year we decided to skip the June 14 hearings in protest.  Read more about why we chose to take this action in our press release:

Advocates To Skip June 14 Health Insurance Rate Hearings

 Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, a lead consumer advocacy voice in the state, announced today that they will not participate in the June 14 rate hearings at the Connecticut Insurance Department, in protest of the hearing process and timing.  The decision represents a departure from the Foundation’s previous approach to the health insurance rate approval process. 

Foundation president, Frances G. Padilla sums up the decision in the following statement: 

“We believe the state’s approach to the health insurance rate review process is unwelcoming of real public participation and too narrow in its scope, failing to truly grapple with the rising health care costs facing both consumers and payers.  The timing of the hearing is also unfortunate, given the attacks on the Affordable Care Act occurring right now. 

It is not acceptable to pass along double digit premium increases to individuals with only a day of hearings that focus on technical actuarial analyses and do not allow a full dialogue with consumers.  We call on our state regulators and political leaders to step up action on behalf of consumers.  We must work together and be truly innovative in how we address our growing health care challenges, especially in light of changes coming from Washington, D.C.”     

The June 14 hearings are to consider health insurance rate requests for 2018 policies being sold in the individual market, both in and outside the health exchange, Access Health CT.  Anthem is asking for a 33.8% average increase (ranging from 19 to 52.1%), and ConnectiCare is asking for a 15.2% average increase (ranging from 8.4 to 18.7%). 

The Foundation is particularly concerned that the June 14 hearings are scheduled too early, and will be rendered moot by the challenges to the health insurance marketplace.  The 2018 rate requests assume that the insurers will receive cost sharing reduction payments, which the Trump administration may end.  In addition, Access Health CT has given Anthem and ConnectiCare, the only insurers willing to offer policies to individuals buying via the exchange, until September 1 to decide if they are in or out of the 2018 individual market.  By holding hearings later in the summer, there could be more clarity about the specific challenges the insurance companies will face.  

The Foundation has testified at the hearings in recent years.  It has asked for the state to adopt consumer affordability standards in response to the Insurance Department’s stance that it is by statute only required to evaluate requests to increase premium rates relative to their impact on insurance carrier solvency.  In February 2017, the Insurance Department submitted testimony in opposition to proposed legislation to adopt consumer affordability standards.  In addition, the Foundation has requested that rate hearings be held at times and locations more favorable to attendance by the general public.  Such requests have been declined by the Insurance Department. 

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THANK YOU! Your action made change in Hartford!


to all of you who called, emailed, shared alerts and posts, and worked to support important people-centered/pro-consumer health care bills this session.

Here are some important gains made this legislative session:

Senate Bill 445 – PASSED!

This bill focused on fighting back against prescription drug prices, and included other important consumer protections.

THANK YOU to Senator Martin Looney, Senator Len Fasano, and their staff for fighting for health care consumers at the Capitol this session.

And of course, thanks to YOU for taking action!

Senate Bill 126 – PASSED!

This bill is a critical step towards realizing the potential of Community Health Workers in the state, and improving health for state residents.

We applaud the hard work of Health Equity Solutions in advocating for this bill!  Thank you for fighting for health equity in our state!

Thank you to all who took action for this bill!

You might be wondering about other bills that we supported during the session.  A quick update:

Senate Bill 586
A bill that would have preserved gains made in women’s health under the Affordable Care Act, no matter what happens in Washington, DC, didn’t make it.  In the event that these important federal protections are repealed, the legislature will be able to take action in a special session.

Senate Bill 795
This bill included the Office of Health Strategy and modernization of the Certificate of Need (CON) program.  As these issues affect the state budget, they will be addressed in the budget process.

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TODAY: Tell your state rep to stand up for health care!

We need the House to act on three bills by 11:59pm on Wednesday, June 7!

These three pro-consumer bills have passed the Senate.  Now we need the House to pass them without amendment.

More on the bills below – here’s what you can do TODAY:

  1. Email your state Representative today (Find your legislator here). Ask them to urge House leadership to call for a vote on these bills with no amendment.

Sample email message to send:

I’m a constituent writing to ask you to pass three bills that protect Connecticut residents against high health care costs (SB 445), protect women’s health coverage (SB 586), and promote better health (SB 126).  All three should be passed without amendments so that we don’t run out of time.  Connecticut residents can’t wait for you to protect them.  Please let me know what action you take on this.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.

  1. Call Speaker of the House Aresimowicz at (860) 240-8500 and Majority Leader Ritter at (860) 240-8585 and tell them you support these bills and you’d like them to be passed without amendment.


SB 445 – Pushes back against rising prescription drug costs and strengthens important health care consumer protections

  • Must be passed without amendment – any changes would weaken the critical health care consumer protections contained in the bill
  • Protects consumers from being overcharged for prescription drugs
  • Enables the Attorney General to bring anti-trust cases and pursue damages for consumers when it comes to prescription drugs
  • Expands surprise billing protections
  • Strengthens facility fee protections

Learn more: Our fact sheet on the issue | Our blog on the issue

SB 586 – Preserves women’s health gains

  • At a time when women’s health protections are threatened in Washington, DC, this bill ensures that these protections are part of Connecticut state law – so no matter what happens in Washington, women are protected!
  • These protections include access to contraception without co-payments
  • Also preserves other important reproductive health protections in the Affordable Care Act

Learn more: Fact sheet on the issue (from Planned Parenthood of Southern New England) | Our blog on the issue

SB 126 – An important first step for Community Health Workers (CHWs) in our state

  • CHWs are frontline public health workers who work in coordination with the health care system and community based organizations to improve access to health care and the overall health of patients and communities
  • CHWs improve health outcomes, decrease health disparities and advance health equity
  • CHWs are able to provide care outside the traditional health care setting and help people be healthier

Learn more: Fact sheet on the issue (from Health Equity Solutions) | Our blog on the issue

Thank you for your prompt action!  It is important that we all push our state leaders to protect the care of all Connecticut residents.

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We can’t wait! Take action against high Rx costs!

Time is running out for the CT House of Representatives to pass important health care consumer protections!

Tell your State Representative and House Leadership to act this week!

Last week the Senate passed a bill, Senate Bill 445, that protects you from unfair and hidden health care costs.

We need your help to get this bill passed in the House before the legislative session ends on June 7.  Time is running out and patients and health care consumers can’t wait!

Tell your State Representative and House Leadership to pass Senate Bill 445 as written.

Senate Bill 445 is a bi-partisan effort that:

Pushes back against rising costs of prescription drugs

  • Protects patients from being overcharged for their prescription drugs when their co-pay is higher than the cost of the drug
  • Permits pharmacists to share more information with patients about the cost of their medication, including whether there are less expensive alternatives
  • Enables the Attorney General to file anti-trust lawsuits and recover damages on behalf of consumers who have been overcharged due to anti-competitive price fixing by drug corporations

Expands surprise billing protections

  • Includes laboratory services in surprise billing protections
  • Requires written consent when patients are receiving out-of-network services so patients have a clear understanding of the possible higher costs

Strengthens facility fee protections

  • Requires that facility fee notices include a telephone number for the patient to call to find out the fee
  • Requires that providers that charge a facility fee notify patients when they make an appointment

THREE phone calls you can make to help pass this bill:

  1. Call your state Representative (Find your legislator here), tell them to ask House Leadership to call for a vote on SB 445 as written and vote yes on the bill
  2. Call House Majority (Democratic) Leadership at (860) 240-8500 and tell them to bring SB 445 up for a vote
  3. Call House Minority (Republican) Leadership at (860) 240-8700 and tell them to bring SB 445 up for a vote

Don’t know who your Representative is? 

Click here to find your legislators and how to get in touch with them.

Want to know more about the bill?

Here’s our Fact Sheet on Senate Bill 445

Read Let’s eliminate the pharmaceutical ‘gag order’ that costs patients money (Op-ed in support of Senate Bill 445)

Read the Bill Summary on Senate Bill 445

Please let us know if you have contacted your State Representative and House Leadership on this important issue by emailing us at info@universalhealthct.org

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EVENT: Tuesday, May 30 – Join us to say NO to HUSKY Cuts!

Join with people receiving health care through HUSKY (Medicaid) and other Medicaid advocates to oppose cuts in income eligibility levels for parents in the HUSKY program.

The General Assembly will most likely be in session so this will also be an opportunity to talk to your state Representatives and Senators.

Planning to attend?  Let us know at info@universalhealthct.org

Learn more:

You can read our blog on this subject: Say “No” to Taking Health Care from Low Income Parents!

See Fact Sheets on Proposed Cuts to HUSKY/Medicaid

See Connecticut Health Foundation’s Brief: Impact of Reducing Eligibility for HUSKY Parents from 155% of FPL to 138% of FPL

See Connecticut Voices for Children’s Fact Sheet: Governor’s Cuts Multiply the Burdens on Low-Income Families

THANK YOU for standing up to protect the care of all Connecticut residents!

Sign up for health care action alerts and news at Protect Our Care CT

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Trump Budget Means a Triple Whammy for Connecticut’s Medicaid Program 

By Jill Zorn 

Photo courtesy Oregon Senator Ron Wyden via Twitter (@RonWyden)

Donald Trump’s budget, “A New Foundation for American Greatness” is just the latest in a string of attacks against Connecticut’s Medicaid program.

First, is the proposed state budget cut that would lead to 9,500 HUSKY A parents, with incomes between 138% and 155% of the federal poverty level, losing their Medicaid coverage.  Read our recent blog, Say “No” to Taking Health Care from Low Income Parents, to learn more.

Second is the huge threat posed by the (Un)American Health Care Act (AHCA), the bill passed by the US House now awaiting action in the Senate.  The AHCA would cut over $800 billion from Medicaid nationally over the next ten years.  Estimates are that this would mean a hit to Connecticut’s budget of over $500 million and loss of Medicaid coverage for over 180,000 residents.

An update of those estimates is expected soon, when a revised “score” from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is released on Wednesday.

Medicaid faces yet a third threat, now that Donald Trump’s 2018 budget had been released.  CT Mirror reports that the budget would “cut Medicaid funding to Connecticut and eliminate other programs state residents rely upon to make ends meet.”

Nationwide cuts of $610 billion proposed in the Trump budget, on top of the cuts proposed in the AHCA, would mean a staggering $1.4 trillion cut to Medicaid over 10 years.

This budget, which should be renamed “A New Threat to American Greatness,”  would chop the federal Medicaid budget roughly in half, during a time when health care costs are going up, not down.  It would mean even more people would lose Medicaid coverage in Connecticut and across the country.

We must push back against this triple whammy of Medicaid cuts.  While keeping an eye on all three, it is important to start first with the most immediate threat, the cut to HUSKY A parents.

If you haven’t already done so, please call your state Senator and Representative today and tell them NO to HUSKY cuts!

To find your state Senator and Representative, go to Find Your Legislators.

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