UConn, Obamacare and a projected $1.1 billion deficit for Connecticut

The sexual assault controversy hovering over the University of Connecticut underscored much of the news coverage this week. As Mirror Education Writer Jacqueline Rabe Thomas reported:

  • UConn President Susan Herbst said she hadn’t intended to dismiss the accusations of students who said they’d been assaulted — her comments had been “misunderstood”;
  • Lawmakers, after hearing testimony from students who say the university failed to act appropriately after hearing about their assaults, were trying to determine if UConn was following the law in its responses;
  • It’s not just UConn struggling with these issues: The Office of Civil Rights says it’s received more than 7,000 complaints in the past five years about how a college handled sexual harassment, violence or other sex discrimination issues;
  • And, three of the five publicly disclosed cases in the civil rights complaint filed by students involved UConn athletes. Does that indicate that athletes are getting special treatment in this regard?

To be continued …

In the ongoing complicated rollout of the Affordable Care Act, Health reporter Arielle Levin Becker wrote earlier in the week about people balanced precariously on a “subsidy cliff” — earning too much to qualify for financial help in buying insurance, but not enough to handle the higher costs of insurance.

Friday, she and our Washington writer Ana Radelat teamed up to report the president’s announcement that, in light of thousands of people across the country getting cancellation notices from their insurers, insurance companies may continue offering plans next year even if they don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act. The statement immediately raised concerns among insurers, actuaries and state insurance commissioners.

Radelat followed 5th District Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who joined with 38 other House Democrats to approve a Republican bill that would not only allow insurers to renew individual insurance policies, but also “sell similar policies to new customers next year, even if they don’t provide the comprehensive coverage required by the Affordable Care Act.” Esty said she voted for the bill — whose fate in the Senate is dubious and which the president opposes — because she heard from constituents who felt “blindsided” by their cancellations.

Meanwhile, Senate minority leader and GOP gubernatorial candidate John McKinney called for a special session of the Connecticut legislature – necessary, he said, to ensure that insurance companies could, in fact, extend insurance policies slated for cancellation.

Primed for more disagreement?  How’s that state budget looking?

Just fine, if you’re talking about the current budget, reports the Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf. Both the Malloy administration and nonpartisan analysts at the Office of Fiscal Analysis agree on this.

But if you look down the short road to about a year from now? The administration says a shortfall of about $600 million looms. The folks at OFA differ: They’re projecting a budget deficit of $1.1 billion deficit.

Phaneuf, as always, provides the details.

And Don’t Miss 

Ray Soucy is to be sentenced Monday. Mark Pazniokas writes that when the judge imposes her sentence, she “is likely writing the coda to a campaign-finance scandal that tilted a congressional race and tainted the Connecticut General Assembly.” But Pazniokas’ story is a coda as well. And check data editor Alvin Chang’s pictorial guide to the players of the scandal.

Energy and environment writer Jan Ellen Spiegel wrote a fascinating story about how solar panels and other renewable technologies may pose firefighting hazards.

And, the executive director of Operation Fuel, which helps the needy pay their heating bills, says that because of decreased federal aid, nearly 40 percent of Connecticut households will have trouble paying their energy bills this winter.

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