May 30, 2018

Gov. Malloy inks two health care bills

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signed two health care bills into law, including one that protects key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, but also warned lawmakers that he will have to find a way to pay for the insurance coverage.

The governor signed into law two bills that will require insurance companies to provide full coverage in Connecticut for what is referred to as essential health benefits, as well as coverage for prosthetic devices.

The Affordable Care Act provision that will be protected under one new law includes coverage for ambulatory services; emergency services; hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavior health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive wellness services and chronic disease management; and pediatric services.

The law also mandates access to contraception without a co-pay and granting doctors the ability to provide a 12-month supply of contraception, which is the only provision in the law that is not currently required under federal law.

Under people's health insurance policies, artificial limbs also will be covered for at least the equivalent provided under Medicare.

Coverage can be limited to a prosthetic device that the health care provider determines to be the most appropriate to meet medical needs.

"While these two pieces of legislation will help ensure some citizens of Connecticut have access to important medical care, protection of these services is meaningless if our citizens cannot afford insurance coverage in the first place," Malloy said.

State residents are already facing uncertain health coverage and "skyrocketing" costs, he said, due to President Donald Trump's and Washington Republicans' "disastrous, piecemeal unraveling of the Affordable Care Act," commonly known as Obamacare.

With increasing costs and the repeal of the individual mandate, Connecticut lawmakers must find a balance between maintaining access to care while keeping costs affordable.

The mandates in the two bills will require the state to pay at least $2 million per year, but the legislation did not include funds to pay for the expense, Malloy said.

"Let me be clear: the goals of these two pieces of legislation are undoubtedly noble and those who advocated for them were entirely well intentioned," he wrote to members of the General Assembly upon signing the bills. "However, this is a warning — we must proceed cautiously when taking legislative action may put vital health insurance out of reach for low-income and middle-income individuals in our state."

Malloy is urging legislators to thoroughly vet and analyze costs before enacting similar legislation in the future.

"Adding new benefits without the aid of a full actuarial cost analysis will lead to increased burdens on our already strained consumers," he said.

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