Insurance and Real Estate Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-544

Title:

AN ACT REQUIRING PRIOR LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL OF INCREASES IN ASSESSMENTS AND USER FEES CHARGED BY THE CONNECTICUT HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE.

Vote Date:

3/7/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

2/23/2017

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Insurance & Real Estate Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The bill intends to give the Insurance Committee of the CGA oversight in any attempt by the CT Health Insurance Exchange to increase the amount of any assessment or user fees. The exchange would also need approval from the aforementioned committee to change the process in which the amount of any assessment or user fee is increased. Such a process would provide another layer of oversight and a more thorough procedure for determining whether increases in assessments and user fees are appropriate.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Jim Wadleigh, CEO, Access Health CT, submitted testimony in opposition of the bill due to the fact that the Exchange has their own Board of Directors made up of publically elected officials including the Lieutenant Governor and other members of the CGA. At the creation of the exchange, Access Health CT was given the authority to “charge assessments or user fees to health carriers” and does not receive any funding from the State of Connecticut. It was noted that the assessment rate is set by the Exchange in public process and that Access Health CT has one of the lowest assessment rates in the country as it stands currently. They feel there is no need to further burden the agency with expanded oversight, especially since the state is not providing funding to the Exchange.

Ted Doolittle, Office of the Healthcare Advocate, submitted testimony in opposition to the timing of the bill because he believes that the proposed oversight would impede the Exchange's ability to react to the changes in the insurance market quickly and effectively at a time when flexibility in the exchange is most important. It was stated that that the OHA strongly supports the content of the bill but has reservations about when it should be implemented. The OHA would recommend delaying the process outlined in the bill until after there is a better understanding to what, if any, healthcare policy changes are made on the federal level. However, if the legislation were to pass, recommendations were made in the testimony to augment the policy.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Connecticut Association of Health Plans, submitted testimony stating that the proposal would provide a necessary check and balance to the Exchange's ability to levy additional assessments. The proposed oversight would assure that the resources of the health carriers would be used in a more efficient manner with another layer of protection against the possibility of increases.

Jennifer Herz, Counsel, Connecticut Business & Industry Association, submitted testimony praising the proposed procedure to require another layer of checks and balances on future assessment and rate increases to ensure that there is a public mechanism to control and limit health care costs.

Rebecca Kayfus, Human Resource Officer, Thomaston Savings Bank, submitted testimony noting the high cost of health insurance for employees and that plan outlined by the bill would address the rising cost of healthcare in Connecticut.

Yaron Lew, COO, Laurentano Sign Group, submitted testimony stating the additional oversight by the legislature is needed to control healthcare costs in the state.

John O'Connell, President, C.M. Smith Agency, submitted testimony noting the burden of rising healthcare costs places on providing insurance for his employees. It is believed that implementation of this bill would aid in controlling those costs.

Charlie Sears, President, Dri-Air Industries, submitted testimony noting the burden of healthcare costs on his business and stated that adoption of this bill would help control those costs and make the state more business friendly.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None expressed.

Reported by: Matt Hoey

Date: 3/21/17