Obamacare is a huge success in Connecticut

Greenwich-Voices-GoldrickGiven the scant attention paid it by Connecticut newspapers, you can be forgiven for not knowing that the Affordable Care Act in Connecticut has proven a tremendous success.

Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT, was voted into existence by General Assembly Democrats in 2011 over the opposition of Republicans, including gubernatorial candidate John McKinney and every Greenwich Republican, and signed into law by Gov. Dannel Malloy. The next year, Malloy made a shrewd hire, bringing in Kevin Counihan, an architect of Massachusetts’ health care system (aka Romneycare) to build Connecticut’s health exchange.

Under Counihan’s direction, Connecticut’s exchange functioned superbly from day one, avoiding pitfalls of the federal exchange and becoming a model for other states. It’s worked so well that Maryland’s legislature recently voted to replace its system with Connecticut’s.

By the end of the first sign-up period, over 200,000 Nutmeggers had gained health insurance through Access Health CT, more than double the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services’ projection. While Republicans continue to rail that Obamacare is a “train wreck,” the new health insurance system is not only working superbly in Connecticut, but is also very popular.

A surge of enrollment towards the end of March, when Access Health was signing up as many as 4,000 people a day, resulted in nearly 79,000 residents enrolling in qualified health plans through the state’s exchange. Nearly four in five of those received federal subsidies. Plus 31% of all enrollees were under the age of 35, higher than Massachusetts enrolled during the early days of Romneycare.

Far from causing health care costs to “spiral out of control,” as U.S. Rep. Jim Himes’ opponent Dan Debicella charged, per capita health expenditures over the past three years have risen at the lowest rate in more than half a century. The Congressional Budget Office recently forecast that Medicare and Medicaid costs in 2020 will be $180 billion lower than predicted in 2010.

And the Republicans’ claim that more people lost their health insurance due to Obamacare than gained it through the exchanges? Pure bunk, according to a study by the RAND Corp., which covered the period beginning in September last year through mid-March 2014 (missing the big surge in enrollments during the last two weeks of the enrollment period) and revealed that the percentage of Americans under 65 without medical insurance fell dramatically from 20.5% to 15.8%.

RAND estimates that 9.3 million more Americans have health insurance than before enrollment in Obamacare began. Charles Gaba, whose ACAsignups.net  website tracks enrollment in state exchanges, estimates that as many as 23 million Americans gained health insurance through state and federal exchanges through early April.

But keep in mind that the ACA encompasses much more than the health exchanges. Thanks to the ACA, 23,000 people under the age of 26 in Connecticut have been able to retain health insurance through their parents’ policies. Add to that the fact that 42,000 seniors and people with disabilities in this state saved more than $900 each due to the ACA’s closing of the so-called “donut hole” in Medicare Part D.

No longer are women subjected to gender discrimination by being charged higher premiums than men. No longer can insurance companies arbitrarily cancel a person’s insurance when he contracts a serious disease. No one can be denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition. Lifetime insurance caps are no longer legal and women are now assured of prenatal care and contraceptive coverage at no cost.

It’s time for Gov. Malloy, Congressman Himes, and General Assembly Democrats to take a well-deserved bow. Thanks to their courage and foresight, residents of this state are better off. But Mr. McKinney, Mr. Debicella and Greenwich’s General Assembly Republicans have some explaining to do.

Obamacare’s a success and that’s big news.

 

Sean Goldrick is a Democratic member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation, though the opinions expressed in this column are his own. He may be reached at [email protected]

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  • mulwillie

    Just think how the whole country could have benefited from an improved health care system if it wasn’t for lies, obstruction by Republicans – death panels pulling the plug on grandma.

    How many other programs are being held back by the same obstruction – the economy from a jobs program – minimum wage subsidizing low paying companies with food stamps – equal pay for women – background checks to own a gun – rebuilding the infrastructure before another bridge falls down…..

    It is time to pull the plug on these Republicans.

  • Stephanie Paulmeno, MS RN NHA

    Thank you Mr. Goldrick for such a fine, factual and well written explanation of just how well over 200,000 people in Connecticut alone have fared so far with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, ObamaCare). So many people in the public sector continue to believe the GOP spin that has tried to derail the implementation and progress of the affordable care act since its inception that one can only wonder how many more people who truly needed and still need covered health care today continue to languish in an uncovered abyss who would be so much better off today if they had signed up during the official registration period. There will be another one coming. As a public health professional, and as one who has been asked to speak a number of times on the subject of the Affordable Care Act, I am well versed with its components, its timeline, and with the basis for the facts you have stated. Anyone can look them up for themselves and verify what you have written, but history tells us most won’t take the time to do that. ( http://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/8061-021.pdf )

    I have sat on the Connecticut Commission on Health Equity since its inception, and, possibly more than any other legislation, the ACA/ObamaCare has done more to provide equal access and quality of care to people of color, to immigrants who could not always decipher the legalese and complexities of insurance polices, to women who were discriminated against in many subtle ways beginning with the cost of healthcare and what was and wasn’t covered, to full access to insurance policies. No longer can the insurance companies take the majority of your money without it benefiting you. 80% of money paid to the insurance companies must now be spent on patient care rather than on non-patient care expenses like salaries, bonuses, and advertisements. Every approved insurance policy must now cover 10 Essential Services, important things that insurance policies often left out…which meant you paid for it if you needed it. The ACA has improved care to the elderly and disabled on Medicare, to the impoverished and those on the fringe of impoverishment. It has taken the fear out of becoming ill and losing your insurance and possibly never being able to become insured again because of a “pre-existing condition”. It has made preventive health care free and available to all our citizens; the public health system has long touted the benefit and need to improve our countries health by improving access to preventive care. It does NOT fund care for the undocumented. That is and has already been covered for a very long time under the Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (Like Optimus in our area) in recognition of the fact that even undocumented people get ill and those illnesses can and do impact others (Think contagious and transmissible diseases like TB, like AIDS, hepatitis B and other blood borne and sexually transmitted diseases, and like childhood diseases. We citizens and taxpayers are and have been already paying for care for the undocumented immigrants with whom we live.
    Thank you Mr. Goldrick for setting the record straight and hopefully motivating people to do their own research using non-partisan and unbiased sources that do not have a political motive. People’s health should not be a profit source, nor should it be a political football. Our less affluent people deserve the same access to health and wellness services and quality of care as our more affluent. This is now a guaranteed right for all who will simply reach out and take it.

    • Jaye

      Yes the democrats have done an outstanding job in CT.10% unemployment, CT GDP is half of the rest of the country, CT was once number 2 in the country for income and consumer confidence and for the past 4 years we have been 50th, below Mississippi. Obamacare is destroying businesses and costing jobs. Yet, CT will continue to vote in the tax and spend libs.

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