By Lynne Ide
Here we are in week three of the legislative session in Hartford. What is going to happen with health care?
All eyes have been focused on Washington, D.C. and the health care agendas put forth by President Trump and a newly empowered Congress.
Almost daily there seems to be another march, rally, call-in day or action to protect the health care programs we all count on, whether it be the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid or women’s health.
The fight against the bad stuff coming down from our nation’s Capitol does not get our state off the hook to make change that helps people like you and me.
Universal Health Care Foundation of CT believes that our state elected officials should stand up against Washington-led efforts to decimate our health care – and work on the things that states can do to help make our lives better.
Before the November elections, we put out a new slogan:
Fight4Better: Better care. Better prices. Better health.
Now the political landscape has changed – but the needs and hopes of everyday people struggling to pay for – and get access to – the quality care they need remain the same.
Out-of-pocket health care costs are too much for too many. Co-pays, deductibles and premium sharing are eating up more and more of our household budgets.
Prescription drug prices are out of control – causing people to choose between getting the medicine they need or paying basic household expenses.
Big hospital systems and mega-sized insurance companies are raising costs for all of us – without necessarily providing better care or accountability to the people they serve.
Hartford could take action on these ideas in 2017:
- Help protect people from rising prescription drug prices: Improve price transparency, cut or cap out-of-pocket costs for consumers, and penalize price gouging.
- Set standards for all hospitals (nonprofit and for-profit): Hold hospitals accountable to meet community health needs and the state’s Healthy CT 2020 public health goals, as well as use best practices to engage community stakeholders in Community Health Needs Assessments, Implementation Plans and design of Community Benefits.
- Create consumer affordability standards for insurance rate review: Require the state’s Insurance Department to develop consumer affordability measures for consideration in approving annual insurance premium requests.
- Coordinate the state’s health care policy functions: Establish an Office of Health Strategy to better coordinate the state’s health care initiatives and functions, as well as respond to shifting federal policy – and pay attention to cost trends, quality of care and data needs.
- Protect state residents from federal action that erodes access to, and quality of care: move to codify the gains made in care and coverage via the Affordable Care Act, and commit state resources to at-risk programs, such as women’s health and Medicaid.
That’s a big list. Progress in all of these areas is important.
Connecticut must not sit back and think the fight is only in Washington, D.C.
The #Fight4Better is right here in our back yard.