The SustiNet board on Wednesday endorsed plans for an expansive public health insurance plan, recommending that the state join state employees and retirees and Medicaid recipients into one health insurance pool, then make it available to anyone in Connecticut by 2014.

Many of the items the board endorsed have long been central to the concept behind SustiNet, including allowing employees of municipalities, small firms and nonprofits to join the health plan as soon as is feasible and implementing delivery system changes intended to slow the growth of health care costs and improve health. Those changes include including providing incentives to care for patients through medical homes and use evidence-based care, using health information technology such as electronic medical records, and changing the way health care providers are paid to reward better outcomes, not more tests and procedures.

The plan also calls for restructuring how health care providers are paid for treating Medicaid patients, with an eye toward raising payment rates, and for state agencies and legislators to find resources to expand Medicaid coverage before 2014, when federal health care reform would do so.

Legislators will get a briefing on the board’s proposals Thursday at 9 a.m. The SustiNet board is expected to review a draft of the recommendations during a Dec. 29 conference call and deliver the final version to the legislature in early January.

Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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