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Reducing healthcare costs for consumers, businesses in new legislation

Several bills have been introduced into the Connecticut General Assembly this week with a single, multi-pronged goal: reduce the cost of healthcare.

On Tuesday, during a press conference in New Britain, Gov. Lamont introduced his own healthcare legislation. Comprised of both a Senate Bill and a House Bill, the proposed legislation pulls many of its measures from the Democratic priorities announced earlier this month.

Among its provisions are efforts to stop duplicate services, prevent price gouging by out-of-network providers, and rein in aggressive marketing from pharmaceutical representatives. It also seeks to lower prescription costs by “joining a multistate bulk purchasing consortium to negotiate prescription drug discounts that all of the state’s residents will be able to access through a discount card at their pharmacy” and requiring the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy to “annually publish a list of prescription drugs that are experiencing major price spikes to inform consumers and prescribers about which drug prices are going up and by how much.”

Additionally, it includes provisions to stop anti-competitive practices by health systems to “provide health insurers with additional bargaining power to make it easier to negotiate affordable prices for consumers.”

“We simply can no longer afford not to take action,” said Gov. Lamont in a statement, highlighting the number of Americans who opted to forego care last year due to medical costs, according to Gallup. “These bills I’m proposing tackle this complex problem from multiple angles, and I am calling on all parties – insurers, hospitals, doctors, employers, and consumers – to join with me in working on solutions for the people of Connecticut.”

Also on Tuesday, Connecticut Republicans introduced their healthcare bill, which aims to help reduce health insurance costs for small businesses. Under the bill, small businesses in the state – those with fewer than 51 employees – would be able to band together to access the larger healthcare marketplace. This marketplace is currently unavailable to those small businesses.

It would also allow “trade and industry associations of significant scale to offer self-funded insurance plans regulated by the Connecticut Insurance Department and subject to the Affordable Care Act’s 10 essential health benefits and state-mandated benefits.”

“HB 6710 offers two pathways to lower health insurance costs for small businesses instead of the multiple barriers to affordability that many of them face now,” said state Rep.Kerry Wood(D-Rocky Hill), co-chair of the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee, in a statement. “This legislation would allow for unique plan design, allow companies to pool their risk, and avoid market volatility.”

HB 6170 has received support from a number of small business organizations and Chambers of Commerce in the state.

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Tricia Ennis

An Emmy and AP award-winning journalist, Tricia has spent more than a decade working in digital and broadcast media. She has covered everything from government corruption to science and space to entertainment and is always looking for new and interesting stories to tell. She believes in the power of journalism to affect change and to change minds and wants to hear from you about the stories you think about being overlooked.

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