The SustiNet proposal, which would create a state-run health insurance plan, cleared the Insurance and Real Estate Committee Thursday by a 9 to 7 vote.

The bill would create a public health insurance option called SustiNet by joining state-funded insurance pools under one authority, then allowing municipalities, small businesses, nonprofits and, ultimately, the public to buy insurance through the SustiNet authority.

Republican committee members raised several concerns before voting against the bill, arguing that it could drive out private insurance carriers, threaten the state budget and expand the size of state government.

Supporters on the committee said the bill would improve access to health care and could slow the growth of health care costs through delivery system reforms like the use of patient-centered medical homes.

Rep. Linda Schofield, D-Simsbury, was the only Democrat to vote against the proposal. Rep. David Aldarondo, D-Waterbury, abstained. The bill passed the Public Health Committee 16 to 10 Monday along party lines.

The bill will now go to the Human Services Committee. It must also go through the Government Administration and Elections, Labor and Public Employees, Finance, Revenue and Bonding, and Appropriations Committees before reaching the House floor.

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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