As I’m writing this there are 15 hours left in this year’s legislative session and the bill which would put consumers and small businesses on the Health Insurance Exchange Board is still in a logjam waiting to be called to the Senate floor.
The bill, H.B. 5013, which passed unanimously in the House two weeks ago, would add two consumers and two small business owners to the Board – giving the customers of the Exchange a voice in how the Exchange will be operated. These additions, and the bills provision which changes the Healthcare Advocate from a non-voting member of the Board to a voting member, bring the Exchange Board into compliance with federal legislation and more importantly shift the balance of power from the insurance companies to the consumer.
Kevin Galvin, the president of Small Business for a Healthy Connecticut gives three reasons why this is important in today’s CT News Junkie:
Over the coming months, the Exchange board has numerous important decisions to make. It must decide what benefits it will require insurers to design products around. Affordable coverage must be accompanied by quality health benefits, not a shell insurance plan with high deductibles as a ploy to keep premiums down.
The board must market the Exchange effectively, and figure out how best to get the word out to small businesses. In the survey mentioned earlier, more than half of the respondents were unaware of the federal tax credit available through the ACA (35percent since the ACA was enacted and 50 percent starting in 2014). The board is hiring staff and has engaged a range of consultants but it is not at all clear that it recognizes small business owners with many responsibilities to juggle will need assistance to take maximum advantage of the resources available to them through the Exchange.
Another key decision the board has before it is creating of the standards they will use to qualify health plans to be sold on the Exchange. One such standard small employers would want to weigh in on is how benefits are designed to encourage prevention, improve health outcomes and reduce costs. For instance, eliminating co-pays on certain chronic illness medications to promote people adhering to their regimen makes health sense and is known to control costs.
Members of staff and healthcare4every1 advocates will be at the capitol all afternoon and evening. Come join us outside the Senate chambers.