February 18, 2003
TESTIMONY HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE
RE: SB 521, 37, 98, 686, HB 5470, 5473, 5474, 5475, 5476, and 5478
Ellen Andrews, Executive Director, CT Health Policy Project
Thank you for this opportunity for input on these important bills. We at the CT Health Policy Project urge you to pass each of them with strong support.
SB 521, AA Providing for Joint Procurement of Dental Services for State Employees with the State Medicaid, HUSKY and General Assistance Consumers is vital not only to the consumers who might be included in such a program, but vital also to Connecticut's democratic process. It is inconceivable that a plan which would affect the health of one in eight CT residents could get to the point of a request for proposals without ANY input from either legislators, taxpayers, the public, healthcare providers or the over 300,000 consumers in three of the four affected programs.
It is very frustrating to see Connecticut make the same mistake over and over. We have a long history of planning programs behind closed doors, without input from the providers and consumers who will have to make this work, and, not surprisingly, those programs fail. Policymakers are left wondering why, and often end up blaming the providers and consumers who were delivered the flawed plan without comment. This proposal was developed by a well-meaning group of bureaucrats behind closed doors with input only from agencies, unions and consultants - not from the people who will have to live with the consequences.
The plan has many other fatal flaws, brought to the attention of planners, which have not been addressed. The proposal includes no accountability provision requiring independent evaluations of access to care, no provisions to ensure continuity of care between dental and physical health services, no assurance that contractual sanctions for nonperformance would ever be imposed, no attention to sufficient resources for the program, and inadequate provisions to inform consumers or providers about these massive program changes. This plan also creates a HUGE monopoly in Connecticut's dental care market which will have even less reason to respond to the needs of either consumers or taxpayers than the current HUSKY dental care companies.
SB 521 does not preclude such a joint procurement which, if well planned and implemented, has great potential to improve access to care for all members. SB 521 is a modest measure requiring public input and a reasonable planning process that should be Connecticut's standard for all health care policy proposals - at least for the ones you want to succeed.
The CT Health Policy Project also urges your support of SB 37, 98, 686, HB 5470, 5473, 5474, 5475, 5476, and 5478. These are important measures to improve access to affordable, quality health care for every CT resident.