A Connecticut office created this summer to study options for achieving universal state coverage has issued its first report.
Whether the Office of Health Care Access or its recommendations will survive a new cost-conscious Republican administration remains unclear, observers said.
Governor-elect John Rowland, the state's first Republican leader in 24 years, will succeed Lowell Weicker, an independent who chose not to run for re-election. Mr. Weicker's administration authored the legislation that led to the OHCA's establishment July 1.
Mr. Rowland couldn't be reached for comment but has spoken publicly about his desire to slim down state spending.
"This is a governor who won on a platform of not only contracting spending but eliminating the (state) income tax in five years," said Dennis May, president of the Connecticut Hospital Association. "He may view OHCA as an organization whose time has come."
Elinor Jacobson, OHCA's director of communications, said the governor-elect is a "free-market person" who's concerned about finding savings in the budget. Nevertheless, with a $2 million budget funded through June 30, 1995, OHCA is moving ahead with its mandated mission to produce options for healthcare reform by Jan. 1, 1995.
OHCA's Nov. 15 draft report, prepared by KPMG Peat Marwick, outlines four alternatives for enrolling all residents in a health plan by Jan. 1, 1997. The report explores the various cost, access and financing implications of mandates on individuals to obtain coverage, a single-payer plan, incentives for private market reforms and building on existing public program incentives.
The report must go through numerous reviews and revisions before final legislation is drafted.
In addition to expanding access, the OHCA is seeking to control the overall growth rate in healthcare spending.
Total healthcare spending in the state is estimated at $17.6 billion for 1996, reaching $24.1 billion in 2000, according to the draft report. Private insurance and out-of-pocket contributions are expected to cover 57% of the 1996 expenses, with the remainder paid for through public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
The figures exclude personal health spending, which is expected to reach $15.5 billion in 1996 and $21.3 billion in 2000.