Thousands of people have died in Connecticut because of their lack of health insurance says a report released today, and a group of state officials say the findings show the need for more scrutiny of rate increases.

“Let’s have accountability on these rate increases,” said House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan.

Currently the Connecticut Insurance Department regulates the increases, but a bill being discussed during today’s public hearing would give the attorney general and the state’s health care advocate authority to appeal the insurance commissioner’s rate decisions in court. It would also require making public the supporting evidence justifying a price increase and require public hearings to review every increase.

Insurance Commissioner Thomas R. Sullivan testified today that he opposes the proposal because “it will lead to a reduction in the number of health insurers” in Connecticut and prices should be based actuarial data, not what someone considers reasonable.

But Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said during a press conference he doesn’t believe the data will back up the increases.

“There’s no real justification for many of these raises,” he said, accusing the insurance industry of just boosting their own profits with the increases.

Echoing that sentiment, Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guildford, said the recent report showing that almost every rate increase was accepted as-is, shows the state’s insurance commissioner “acts like a representative of the insurance industry.”

If the bill becomes law Connecticut would be the first state to establish a rate approval process based on what someone deems affordable, Sullivan said.

Public Health Committee House Cochairwoman Elizabeth B. Ritter, D-Waterford, said she has no problem with being the first, “we should lead” and should not wait on a federal rescue to solve the problem.

A nonprofit pushing for a national health reform, Families USA, reports in the past 15 years 294,000 adults — 2,100 in Connecticut — ages 25 to 64 years old have died due to the lack of health insurance.

Read the CTMirror story on the proposed bill here.

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

Leave a comment