Connecticut's Legislature has passed an amended version of Gov. Lowell Weicker Jr.'s healthcare reform plan, creating a special government office to examine options for achieving universal insurance coverage by 1997.
Mr. Weicker, the state's independent chief executive, is expected to sign the measure this month.
Connecticut has lagged behind some other states in tackling prickly healthcare cost and access issues, partly because the state controlled hospital rates for more than two decades. This spring, the General Assembly agreed to partially deregulate rates charged by the state's 35 acute-care hospitals. The action responded to a federal court finding that rate-setting violates the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (April 11, p. 8).
The Connecticut Hospital Association supported the governor's bill but had hoped for more aggressive action. Now it's considering whether to push its own reform agenda, which would encourage competition among inte-grated delivery networks and mandate employer-sponsored insurance coverage by 1996 (Feb. 14, p. 34). CHA placed its bill on the back burner in order to pursue deregulation, said Dennis May, CHA's president.
The bill passed by the General Assembly provides no financing or mandates on how to finance proposed reforms.
The new Office of Health Care Access would be headed by a three-member board made up of the state's health and insurance commissioners and a third governor-appointed representative. A panel representing employers, insurers, hospitals, unions and other interests would advise the OHCA in developing recommendations to be presented to the General Assembly in 1995.
The bill would dissolve the Commission on Hospitals and Health Care as of July 1995. The OHCA would assume the commission's duties temporarily and make recommendations to the General Assembly on which ones to retain. Certificate-of-need reviews likely will be preserved.
The bill also would create a health data institute at the University of Connecticut.