Legislators sign on to health reform brief for Supreme Court

Forty-three Connecticut legislators have signed on to expressed their support for the federal health reform law through an amicus brief being filed on behalf of state legislators across the country.

The legislators’ effort, organized by the Progressive States Network and the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform, is targeted at a challenge to the reform law brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business. The U.S. Supreme Court is slated to hear oral arguments in the case in March.

According to the Progressive States Network, the brief will argue that the health reform law respects the Constitutional balance of power between the federal and state governments by providing federal mechanisms for achieving reforms while giving states the ability to shape how many aspects of the law are implemented.

During a press conference Thursday, Democratic state lawmakers defended the law’s legitimacy and spoke of provisions that had benefitted the state, including grants for school-based health centers and state retiree health care coverage, and insurance reforms that eliminated lifetime limits on health benefits and allow children to stay on their parents’ coverage until turning 26.

Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, called the law “an example of a constructive federalism,” in which the federal government provides a solution to a national problem and sets a minimum floor for health care coverage while giving states flexibility in making health care policies.

“We as legislators are saying we back our Congress,” said House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, who is hoping to join them; he’s a candidate for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Murphy, who is running for Senate.

State Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri said that since the health reform law took effect, her office, which helps consumers address insurance issues, has seen a drop in cases related to coverage for preventive visits and wellness coverage. The law requires health plans to cover preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs to members. The law also provided funds to increase staff in her office who helped consumers successfully appeal insurance denials, Veltri said.