By Lynne Ide
Here we go – the 2015 legislative session is set to start on January 7. Legislators will gather in Hartford to be sworn in. At the same time, Governor Dannel Malloy starts a second four-year term. Let the lawmaking begin!
I have a big wish for our state’s elected leaders this year: Can we please set up an inclusive process for a thoughtful analysis of what we truly need from our health care system long-term – and then design a blueprint to get there?
It would be great if we didn’t settle for short-term fixes or feel good measures. The rush to shore up a few of our struggling hospitals or end costly facility fees are surely good causes – but these measures won’t be enough to give us the high-quality, affordable health care that we all deserve. Without a plan, we’ll just be scrambling to respond to the problem “du jour.”
We have a lot of good work to build on in Connecticut. Previous bodies such as the HealthFirst Authority and the SustiNet Board involved hundreds of diverse stakeholders. The state’s Health Care Cost Containment Committee, State Employee Health Enhancement Program, and Department of Public Health’s State Health Assessment and Health Improvement plan bring lots to the table. And don’t forget the $45 million grant Connecticut just received for the State Innovation Model work to address changes in the way we deliver and pay for health care. Finally, our state’s health exchange, Access Health CT is a leader in the nation.
So, how about it Gov. Malloy and legislative leaders – doesn’t this seem like a good wish? Let’s get to work on building a blueprint for a health care system that breaks down barriers to access, puts a premium on care that focuses on promoting health, and slows down the cost of care so it won’t eat up more of our paychecks or state budget. (Hint: The future shape of our state’s hospitals are part of that blueprint. Let’s keep that in mind before we jump in with quick fixes.)
I know there are plenty of pressing health care issues to address. I also know that legislative bodies rarely have the will and long-term vision to take on complex issues with multiple, monied interests at stake. This is where a Governor’s leadership can work magic.
Here’s hoping our state’s elected leaders rise to the health care challenge. The people they represent need them to do more than just plug holes in the dam.