On provider-insurer disputes, Connecticut residents spoke up and legislators listened

By Rosana Ferraro |

dreamstime_xs_58315167A little-discussed bill passed the House and Senate this past legislative session that promises to help out people caught between two big health industry forces – an insurance company on one hand, and a large hospital and provider system on the other.

Imagine – you pay your health insurance premium to Anthem every month, you get health care services from Hartford HealthCare – and then suddenly your health care provider is out of network because your insurer and your provider can’t agree on a contract.

What does this mean?  Should you cancel your appointment with your Hartford HealthCare physician?  Should you avoid the emergency room because the nearest hospital is owned by Hartford HealthCare?  Do you have your baby at a different hospital than originally planned?  What about that knee replacement surgery that took months to schedule?

This was the situation last fall, when Anthem & Hartford HealthCare failed to renew their contract with each other before their existing contract term expired.  Those affected were not happy – and they called their legislators about it.

Advocates, including the Foundation, spoke up about the impact on people.  The Insurance and Real Estate Committee of the legislature held a hearing on the issue last November, and several proposals for legislation were discussed.  In the end, Anthem and Hartford HealthCare agreed to a new contract, which also included covering services Anthem members received from Hartford HealthCare hospitals and providers during the dispute.

Despite the resolution, legislators were not deterred.  In this past legislative session, House Bill 5383 was introduced to require insurers and providers to abide by their old contracts for 60 days if they can’t agree on a new one.  This protects consumers from outrageous out of pocket costs for seeing their doctors or going to the hospital while health industry behemoths duke it out.

When the proposed bill got a public hearing, we made sure to speak up (read our testimony here), as did many others, including the Connecticut Office of the Healthcare Advocate.  You can check out all the testimony here.

So, what happened?

The bill passed the House and the Senate – the last step to put this bill into law is signature by the Governor.  We’ll keep you posted!

UPDATE 6/8/2018: The Governor signed the bill into law on June 6, 2018!

Posted in Rosana G. Ferraro | Tagged

WE DID IT! Full Restoration of Medicaid Cuts 

Guest blog by Geralynn McGee and Ann Pratt, co-chairs of the Medicaid Strategy Group |


In the fall of 2017, the state legislature voted to decrease income eligibility for parents and caregivers in the Medicaid (HUSKY A) program, as well as elderly and disabled people in the Medicare Savings Program, in order to balance the state budget.  Advocates and activists mounted a campaign to keep the cuts from going into effect and restore health care coverage to those at risk of losing it.  Here is a reflection on the victory from two leaders in the fight:

Thanks to a hard-fought victory in the final hours of the 2018 legislative session, over 115,000 low-income, working parents, elderly and persons with disabilities will continue to have access to Medicaid coverage.

How did this happen and what lessons can we draw upon for the challenges ahead?

Medicaid advocates began preparation for the legislative session in late 2017. Although our strategy would develop over time, we were all clear on the common goal: full restoration of the cuts to Medicaid made in the October 2017 budget.  We knew this was ambitious…or was it?

Even as we planned, there was a public outcry over the Medicaid Savings Plan (MSP) reductions from across the state.  The legislature couldn’t ignore the pressure and decided to delay the reduction in a special session, giving us the boost we needed to make this delay permanent and restore the Medicaid cuts.

Given the multi-million-dollar deficit facing the state – we knew we would have to raise the funding issue, especially for the HUSKY A program for low-income adults and caregivers, which had not initially caught the legislature’s attention.

We set the goal — we fought relentlessly — and WE WON!!

Here’s a short reflection on our journey:

We linked the programs in our messaging:  We linked the fight to secure a permanent fix to MSP with the need to restore HUSKY A.  We channeled the force of the 113,000 MSP recipients, urging them to include HUSKY A parents in their calls and advocacy with their legislators.  We made sure actions, alerts and communications linked these two programs together – as one unified call for quality, affordable health care.

We drew upon core values of equity and fairness: When it became clear that the current $200 million deficit was less of an issue – that, in fact, there was a $1.2 billion surplus in the state coffers – we  intensified our efforts to expose this immoral, unjust and fundamentally unfair reality through securing op-eds, letters to the editors & calls from the field highlighting the core narrative: While CT has a billion surplus, state law makers were set to deny 115,000 low-income, working parents, elderly and disabled, access to healthcare.

Maximizing a strategy: We held press conferences, used media, including social media, and advocacy.  We secured legislators’ support, including champions from the Black and Puerto Rican caucus and long-time Medicaid advocates, and urged them to pull their levers of power.

What are the lessons learned?

  • There are various roles for advocates and everyone is needed at the table.
  • You never know when your advocacy is going to spark the fire that’s needed for the campaign.
  • Since success often hinges on the luck of timing, it’s important to maintain a steady drumbeat of advocacy activity. We were fortunate to utilize a town-by-town break down of impacts of the cuts, calls to action, and media to re-energize our efforts at various points.
  • We also tried do everything possible to encourage, support, and make sure that people who are most impacted are at the center of the fight. We would not have achieved this level of success without the people’s stories.

What of the battle ahead?  

There are two definitions of the word “aspirational.” One is the most expected: “a hope or ambition of achieving something.”  The second definition is: “the action or process of drawing breath.”

This crucial victory for thousands of CT residents has given us an opportunity to “draw a breath” in our on-going fight for a robust safety net.

We hope that all of those who participated in this very important victory draw strength and resilience from this achievement.  It will fuel us as we move into the battles ahead.

Posted in From the Foundation, Guest Blog | Tagged ,

New Connecticut Law Targets High Prescription Drug Prices

By Jill Zorn |

Which powerful industry is to blame for high prescription drug prices?

  1. Drug companies
  2. Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs)
  3. Health insurance companies
  4. All of the above

If you answered D. All of the Above, you are correct.

Connecticut’s new law, HB 5384, An Act Concerning Prescription Drug Costs, begins the process of holding all three industries accountable.  It awaits Governor Malloy’s signature after passing unanimously in both the House and Senate (UPDATE: Governor Malloy signed the bill into law on May 31, 2018).

The bill is focused on transparency, on shining a light on the activities of all three major corporate players, as well as on the impact of rising prescription drug prices on the state budget. Below is a summary of the information that will be gathered from each industry.

Continue reading

Posted in From the Foundation, Jill Zorn | Tagged ,

Help Push Law That Protects ACA Benefits Over the Finish Line


The state legislature passed a bill that protects the benefits of the federal Affordable Care Act in Connecticut law. This is important because politicians in Washington, DC are finding ways to erode these protections.

The bill passed with bipartisan support in the state House (114-32) and Senate (34-2).

Now Governor Malloy has the opportunity to sign the bill into law.

Please click here to email Governor Malloy today and let him know how important the benefits in House Bill 5210 are to you and your family.

Continue reading

Posted in Action Alert, From the Foundation

Your Voices Were Heard: Health Care Wins in 2018

By Lynne Ide |

Together we did it!

As the clock struck midnight on May 9, health care activists and advocates walked away from the 2018 legislative session with a handful of important wins.

Thanks go out to people from all walks of life across the state who made sure their voice was heard in the call for quality, affordable care we can ALL count on.

Continue reading

Posted in From the Foundation, Lynne Ide | Tagged , ,

ACTION ALERT: There has been progress, and now we need you to call legislative leaders to restore HUSKY A!

HUSKYARestore-May7The issue
13,000 low income working parents with HUSKY A (Medicaid) health care coverage will lose their coverage on January 1, 2019 if legislators don’t act by midnight on May 9.

The current situation
The latest versions of both parties’ budget proposals fully fund the Medicare Savings Program (MSP).  MSP helps low-income elderly individuals and people with disabilities on Medicare pay their out-of-pocket costs and Medicare Part B premiums.

While neither budget restores the cuts to HUSKY A parents, today there is some indication that some legislators have been listening! (See this article) Continue reading

Posted in Action Alert | Tagged

ACTION ALERT: Tell our leaders – Restore Medicaid, there’s still time!


We are seeing real progress on restoration of the two big Medicaid cuts made last fall — to the Medicare Savings Program and HUSKY A, and momentum is building!

The current situation

The latest Republican budget now provides for full MSP restoration. The Democrats did not commit to full MSP restoration in their proposed budget. And neither budget restores the cut to 13,000 plus HUSKY A enrollees effective January 1st.     Continue reading

Posted in Action Alert | Tagged