Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly and members of the Senate Republican Caucus unveil “A Better Way to Affordable Health Care” – a comprehensive set of legislative proposals aimed at lowering the cost of health care in Connecticut. Ayannah Brown / CT Public

Connecticut Republicans last week unveiled a proposal they say would make health care affordable for middle-class families in the state.

Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, said that Connecticut’s health care system is overly complicated and should be revised for patients.

“We can reduce premiums by 30%. That’s an annual saving to the average family of four, for $7,000, almost $600 a month,” Kelly said.

The proposal claims that the average health insurance premium for family coverage is $24,000 a year. Kelly said their plan involves implementing a reinsurance program to defray high cost claims, as well as eliminating a tax requirement when purchasing health insurance. The Republican plan also calls for small businesses to join in associations to buy group health plans together.

It also asks for benchmarking Connecticut hospitals and pharmaceutical companies for transparency regarding their costs.

“Connecticut families are living paycheck to paycheck,” said State Sen. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield. “They are having difficulty making hard choices on things like insurance so that they have health care, whether or not they can meet the family budget or pay an electric bill.”

Connecticut Democrats say they, too, have been working to make health care more affordable and accessible.

The General Assembly’s Public Health Committee is considering several bills related to health care, said State Sen. Saud Anwar, D-South Windsor. He said he looks forward to working with legislators to develop effective and appropriate plans.

“I think the plans are very similar with respect to the goal,” Anwar told Connecticut Public. “Health care insurance is going out of control. The cost of prescriptions is out of control, and we need to identify ways of protecting the health of our citizens. … We want to make sure that people don’t go bankrupt in the process of getting their health care.”

The rising cost of health care is a top priority, said State Rep. Aundré Bumgardner, D-Groton.

“My colleagues and I are committed to making health insurance more affordable for everyone,” he said. “If we can work together, especially on issues of equity and access, we can find common ground and help lower prices across Connecticut.”

According to a study done for the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy, a family of one parent, a preschooler and a school-age child would need to earn nearly $31 per hour to meet their family’s basic needs with employer-sponsored health care. That’s more than two full-time minimum wage jobs in Connecticut.

Connecticut Office of Health Strategy report from 2020 found that almost one out of four Connecticut households don’t have enough income to meet their basic needs and that people of color in the state disproportionately experience income inadequacy. Nearly half of Latino households in Connecticut don’t have adequate income; for Black households, it’s 36%. Additionally, health care costs pose a more significant hardship for immigrants.