Less than a day before a vote on the controversial public option healthcare bill, members of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee received two documents: one a status report on the Partnership 2.0 plan, which is the backbone of the public option bill, and the second a letter from the Teamsters union urging committee members to reject the bill.
According to the Teamsters, the public option bill “is a misguided and troubling attempt to create a ‘one-size’ fits all government run plan that would dramatically impact our operations and negatively impact our members ability to access positive health benefit plans we have designed, maintained, and funded over the years.”
“Our healthy, well-funded, Teamsters Union health benefit plans with a large, stable workforce are the targets of this legislation, in a misguided attempt to stabilize and subsidize the other plan types and we vigorously oppose this approach to Senate Bill 842,” the union wrote.
The Teamsters, who count 20,000 members, have a multi-employer healthcare plan for its members and echoed criticism from Connecticut’s insurance companies, saying the state would essentially be competing with them and not subject to the same requirements as traditional insurers.
However, Lembo attempted to neutralize one of the criticisms leveled by the Teamsters, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and the insurance companies by issuing a report on the financial stability of the state’s Partnership Plan 2.0.
The Partnership Plan allows municipalities to join the state’s healthcare plan and would be the program through which small businesses, unions, nonprofits and individuals could join the state-run healthcare plan.
Critics have noted the Partnership Plan paid out more than it took in from premiums in 2018 and 2019.
Lembo’s report, however, says those losses were addressed when the legislature allowed the Partnership Plan to tailor healthcare premiums based on regional differences and that in 2020 the plan took in 6 percent more in premiums than it paid out in benefits.
The Plan also has reserve balance – called Funds Awaiting Distribution – of $57.5 million, according to the report.
“The Partnership Plan’s financial situation is projected to remain strong into the future,” the report says. “The full implementation of county level rates has corrected regional imbalances, and the cost-saving measures aimed and reducing long-term costs through surgery avoidance, preventative care, chronic disease management and lowering emergency room use will all grow more impactful over time.”
The Teamsters rejection of the public option puts them at odds with most of Connecticut’s public sector unions and majority Democrats who have supported the bill.
The Connecticut AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFT and CSEA all testified in support of the bill, along with Connecticut trade unions and a number of union-funded organizations such as the Working Families Party and the Connecticut Citizens Action Group.
“SB 842 creates a new option for those most often excluded in the current employer-provided health insurance marketplace – employees of small businesses and non-profit organizations,” wrote President of the AFL-CIO Sal Luciano. “It authorizes the Comptroller to offer high-quality, low cost health insurance coverage to small businesses, non-profits and unions with multi-employer Taft-Hartley plans.”
However, the Teamsters believe the bill undermines their multiemployer plan.
“As advocates for our union members and their families, we cannot standby and allow this negative preemptive policy to negatively impact our dedicated efforts over the years,” the Teamsters wrote. “Unfortunately, even with our non-profit, cost-effective approach, we would not be able to compete with a state-run government competitor that would then provide less benefits, less options, and less flexibility than our members currently receive. ”