Deja vu, deja vu, deja "fucking" vu -- it looks like Connecticut's robust public option, SustiNet, is about to get destroyed in much the same way as President Obama destroyed the national public option.
For those of you new to SustiNet, I encourage you to read this diary and get all the details. In a nutshell, SustiNet is a public option passed by the CT legislature (over a GOP veto) several years ago that calls for putting the following all in one pool: Medicaid, CHIP, pensioners, state employees, non-profits that want to buy into the plan, businesses large and small that want a piece of the action, and any individuals or families that would like to purchase a public plan. It is to be offered as an "option" through CT's PPACA-mandated exchange.
Now, though, it looks like Democratic Governor Malloy is getting some damn cold feet about a real public option for CT residents. Could it be that the big-profit insurance company crooks inhabiting Hartford are whining and threatening the new governor? In the words of one Sarah Palin, you betcha!
Remember how President Obama went from directly supporting a public option to saying instead that he supports "any" plan able to meet the general principles of health reform? Remember "let's not trade away the good for the perfect"? Remember all of those words? Well, Malloy is treating CT residents to them right now. The CT Mirror reports:
The Malloy administration says it's fully committed to health reform, with work underway to meet the requirements of last year's federal reform law and capture as much federal money as possible.
But Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is taking a more cautious approach when it comes to SustiNet, the proposed state-run health plan that has in many ways galvanized more support and opposition in Connecticut than federal reform has.
Malloy seems to be "passing the buck" on CT's salvation from big-profit insurance by claiming SustiNet won't work with the federal health care reform, which is absolute bullshit given that the entire plan was designed to work seamlessly with federal health care reform -- its specifics were designed after federal health care reform passed.
Administration officials say they share the goals of SustiNet, which was created to produce universal health care and is now being pitched as a public insurance option that could promote delivery system changes and reduce health care costs. But they say they're looking to the federal reforms to achieve those goals, and say SustiNet needs to be re-examined in light of the federal law.
"The goals haven't changed," said Roy Occhiogrosso, a senior advisor to Malloy. "But the mechanisms for getting there have been altered by what happened in the federal government."
OH MY FREAKING GOD! Read on to see proof that the lobbyists at Aetna and CIGNA are getting their damn way.
"Our primary focus must be to ensure that the state's health insurance exchange is viable and functions optimally to provide adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for all Connecticut residents," he wrote. "Unfortunately, [the SustiNet bill] could have serious, but perhaps unforeseen and unintended impacts on how the exchange will be able to succeed by impacting the insurance marketplace."
What is Malloy saying? A public option would work so good that everyone in CT would want a piece of the action -- it would mean "adios" to big-profit insurance in the state. And God knows that can't happen, because Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has a major drink-fine-wine-in-his-mansion's-hot-tub habit. So, because the state government can do something better than the big-profit insurance company profiteers, the people are getting screwed out of an amazing public option...again. But, don't worry, big-profit insurance companies will still make sure everyone's covered...Malloy promises that:
Still, Barnes wrote, "The Malloy administration fully supports the goals of SustiNet--to promote access to high-quality health care that is effective, efficient, safe, timely, patient-centered and equitable."
Hopefully, progressives in the state's legislative branch won't let Malloy kill an intelligently-designed public plan that could ultimately end up covering 1/3 of CT's residents.
But Donovan and Public Health Committee Co-Chairwoman Rep. Elizabeth B. Ritter, D-Waterford, cautioned against slowing down the process for state-level reforms or giving up on particular SustiNet goals, such as giving small businesses another option for health insurance before 2014.
"We need to move quickly because there are people who are having problems affording health care right now," Donovan said. "The sooner we do this the better."
Ritter said small businesses and nonprofits are "crying out" for SustiNet, and said to not make the state-run plan available to them "kind of dilutes the power of the reforms."
"If we want to provide a way to bring high quality health care to more people in the state of Connecticut while looking at the things that enable us to do it more efficiently and with less dollars, we have to take these steps," she said.
So, if you don't live in CT, why is it important you still support the SustiNet public option?
If CT's public option dies, big-profit insurance company crooks will be emboldened -- they will fight harder and spend more money trying to kill public options in other states, like Maryland, and proposed single-payer plans in Vermont and California.
Contact CT's Democratic Governor Malloy and demand that he not kill SustiNet so that Bertolini has more money for Italian wine. You can send him an email here or call these numbers:
TEL: (860) 566-4840
TOLL-FREE: (800) 406-1527
TDD: (860) 524-7397
FAX: (860) 524-7395
Again, this is what we're fighting for:
Any public plan anywhere puts us one step closer to single-payer health care everywhere.