Matt Lesser

State Senator

Matt Lesser

Deputy Majority Leader

Your Independent Voice

February 9, 2021

Senator Matt Lesser, Senator Martin Looney, Representative Sean Scanlon, and State Comptroller Kevin Lembo Unveil Health Care Reform Legislation

This morning, Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown), Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, Representative Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford), and State Comptroller Kevin Lembo held a virtual press conference to unveil health care reform legislation: SB 842, An Act Concerning Health Insurance And Health Care In Connecticut.

SB 842 is a comprehensive proposal to make health insurance more affordable for families and small businesses and expand coverage. It would drive down premiums and deductibles for individuals purchasing health insurance on AccessHealth CT, the state’s health insurance exchange, and create new affordable options for small businesses with 1 to 50 employees, non-profits, and labor unions.

“In the middle of a pandemic, Connecticut is facing a health insurance crisis and the time to deliver on reform is now,” said Sen. Lesser. “Our plan will lower costs for every single family purchasing private health insurance, close the health equity gap, and provide small businesses with affordable alternatives.”

“Creating a public option would allow our state to provide another health care option for families and small businesses,” said Senator Looney. “At a time when so many are struggling economically, physically and mentally, we owe it to the people of Connecticut to deliver more accessible and more affordable health care. Strengthening health care is a priority for Senate Democrats and we will continue to push for the public option and other measures to improve access to quality, affordable health care.”

“There is ongoing health care emergency in Connecticut,” said Comptroller Kevin Lembo. “The pandemic has made matters worse but, make no mistake, issues of health care affordability, access and equity have existed for years. Contrary to the talking points of our well-funded opposition, a public option is both good for business and a necessary component of the fair, and robust, post-pandemic economy we need to build in our state. The legislature must listen to the needs of its small businesses, nonprofits and those who need help affording health care they can actually use to stay healthy. If not now, when? It’s time to act.”

“Health care matters to every person, family and business in this state and access to quality and affordable health care is literally a matter of life and death,” said Rep. Sean Scanlon. “COVID has changed our state forever and we can’t simply ‘go back to normal’ when it comes to health care because normal didn’t work before and it certainly won’t work now. It’s past time to deliver on the promise of lowering health care costs for Connecticut and we can start by passing SB 842.”

In today’s press conference, advocates spoke and pushed for this health care reform legislation. Alan Zinser of Woodbury, who is a small business owner, is in favor of a Public Option. He discussed the hardship of negotiation when it comes to health care coverage for employees at his business and he advocated the importance of this health care coverage that would simplify obtaining health care.

Brigeth Rivera, a Hartford residents and advocate for HUSKY4Immigrants discussed that her family has had limited access to health care. She said not a single person in her family has been able to obtain health care insurance and has been discriminated against buying coverage due to being undocumented. Rivera is in favor of equal health care opportunity for everyone.

Pareesa Charmini Goodwin, Executive Director of CT Oral Health Initiative, explained the importance of HUSKY expansion. All patients should receive the same quality care including equal opportunity of affordable health insurance.

Rob Baril with SEIU, strong advocate for affordable health care, discussed the need for leadership to help victims of poverty acquire basic services that are basic rights of every single person in Connecticut.

The bill is specifically designed to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and address the health insurance affordability crisis exacerbated by the pandemic. Even before COVID-19 shown a spotlight on health equity, the uninsured rate for those just above the poverty level was already rising in Connecticut.

Eligibility for HUSKY, Connecticut’s Medicaid program, will also be expanded. Subsidies would be offered to people who purchase coverage on the health care exchange, a policy that has worked in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and other states. The bill will reduce uninsured rates in Connecticut and address the affordability of health care. The bill would also allow immigrants, working people with disabilities including those recovering from COVID-19, and people with chronic medical conditions the ability to purchase affordable coverage. It also coordinates unemployment insurance and health coverage to ensure that individuals who lose their jobs do not experience gaps in coverage.