Your Voices Were Heard: Health Care Wins in 2018

By Lynne Ide |

Together we did it!

As the clock struck midnight on May 9, health care activists and advocates walked away from the 2018 legislative session with a handful of important wins.

Thanks go out to people from all walks of life across the state who made sure their voice was heard in the call for quality, affordable care we can ALL count on.

There were health care action days at the Capitol, calls to action, press events and speak-outs – combining to create a vibrant array of coordinated advocacy tactics aimed at raising awareness and giving voice to the need for action.

Elected officials – in a bipartisan show of support – listened and rose to the challenge of protecting our coverage, restoring cuts to care, and taking on the players in the health care system that too often profit at people’s expense.

Here are some key health care bills that passed in the House and Senate and will now travel to Governor Malloy’s desk for his signature:

  • Protecting Quality Health Care Coverage, House Bill 5210 – This bill makes sure that certain protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are codified in state law. This is important because federal changes have opened the door for erosion of benefits required in health plans.  The ten Essential Health Benefits protected include: hospitalization, pediatric care, prescription drugs, maternity care, preventive & wellness services, emergency services, rehabilitative services, mental & behavioral health services, laboratory services and ambulatory patient services.  The bill also protects a few more things required by the ACA: preventive services, such as a physical, are offered at no cost to the patient; insurance companies cannot deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions; and, insurance companies cannot cap the amount they will spend on a patient in a year or over a lifetime. (House voted 114-32, Senate voted 34-2)
  • Taking on Rising Prescription Drug Costs, House Bill 5384 – This bill is an important first step in dealing with one of the key drivers of rising health care costs – prescription drugs. It requires drug companies, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and insurance companies to provide previously inaccessible information to the state.  This transparency will allow the state to see where the problems are and decide how best to take action to curb costs and protect patients.  (House voted 149-0, Senate voted 36-0)
  • Restoring Cuts to Parents on Medicaid/HUSKY and the Medicare Savings Program – This issue was resolved in a bipartisan budget deal in the final hours of the legislative session. It restores the cuts made in late 2017 to: income eligibility for 13,000 caregivers and parents (90% of whom work) covered by the HUSKY A program; and, the Medicare Savings Program income eligibility of 113,000 elderly individuals and people with disabilities for much-needed care not covered by Medicare.  (House voted 142-8, Senate voted 36-0)
  • Protecting Consumers During Insurer/Hospital Contract Disputes, House Bill 5383 – This bill makes sure that policyholders will be protected for 60 days if their insurance company and local hospital/health provider system can’t settle a contract dispute. It will make sure people will be able to get the care they need with the health care provider they have been using without having to pay out-of-network fees during the dispute.  This bill is important as health care systems are consolidating – offering patients fewer choices.  (House voted 147-0, Senate voted 36-0)

Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis of these issues – and other health care bills that did or did not make it through the 2018 legislative session.  We will be posting more blogs in the coming weeks.