(Correction: Please note the $30,000 figure used in this article is donations form all insurance companies. However, a re-review of the campaign finance data reveals the actual amount insurance companies gave the Connecticut Democrats’ federal account was in excess of $40,000)
Over the past few months Governor Malloy and his political operatives have raised more than $30,000 from major insurance companies and their corporate executives. The funds were deposited into the special Democratic State Central Committee account that will be used to augment the $6.2 million that Malloy will be getting from the State’s public financing system.
Then late last week Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy stunned healthcare advocates when he vetoed an important bill that would have required insurance companies to provide data about how much substance abuse coverage and related mental health care they were actually providing Connecticut residents.
The legislation was a product of a major study conducted the Connecticut General Assembly’s bi-partisan Program Review and Investigation Committee, a committee I chaired in 1993 during the last year I served in the Connecticut House of Representatives.
The Program Review and Investigation is the only committee charged with fully investigating major public policy issues and developing comprehensive solutions.
In this case, the committee produced a comprehensive report entitled, “Access to Substance Use Treatment for Privately and Publicly Insured Youth.” Phase I of the report, and its corresponding legislative initiatives, was adopted on December 18, 2012. Phase II of the report was adopted on June 7, 2013.
This past legislative session, one of the legislative proposals arising out of the report, was introduced in the form of House Bill 5373, An Act Concerning the Reporting of Certain Data by Managed Care Organizations and Health Insurance Companies to the Insurance Department.
The bill was a common sense, first step toward ensuring insurance companies actually pay the bills they are supposed to be paying.
Jeffrey Walter is an expert on substance abuse issues and the president of the Rushford Center, one of the Connecticut’s leading private, non-profit behavior health providers. In his testimony in favor of the legislation, Walter said,
“The legislation might not be necessary were it not for the fact that behavioral health is treated differently by the insurance industry than virtually any other health care specialty….care for psychiatric and substance use disorders [are] denied at a rate that far surpasses my other part of the health care system.”
The Connecticut Psychological Association testified,
“The provisions…increase transparency related to coverage decisions and complains, which will facilitate evaluation of the review process, including compliance with federal parity law, which requires equal treatment of medical and behavioral health providers and conditions, as well as network adequacy.”
Connecticut’s State Health Care Advocate, Victoria Veltri, concluded,
“Expanding the data that insurers report to the Insurance Department concerning member utilization of services for the treatment of substance use, co-occurring and mental health disorders will provide additional needed clarity to the issues concerning consumer access to treatment for these conditions.
And the Connecticut Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry explained,
“We believe that transparency will best serve the public and private sectors while, most importantly, serving our children and families with quality service options.”
Malloy’s Department of Insurance DID NOT take a position on the bill, although the lobbyists representing the insurance industry opposed the bill claiming that reporting the required data would be a burden.
Legislators across the political spectrum dismissed the insurance industry’s claim.
The Program Review and Investigation Committee approved the bill 11 – 0.
The legislature’s Insurance Committee, which generally supports the insurance industry, approved the bill 15 – 2.
The Connecticut State Senate approved the bill 35 – 0 and the Connecticut House of Representatives voted 143 – 0 in favor of the bill.
As the CT Mirror reported last week,
The bill would have required insurers to report information on substance abuse treatment coverage to the Connecticut Insurance Department, for inclusion in the department’s annual consumer report card on health insurance carriers. The insurers would have been required to report information including:
- The estimated number and percentage of members who get treatment for a substance use disorder and the level of care provided
- The median length of covered treatment
- The number of in-network providers who offer substance use disorder treatment and percentage accepting new patients
- The number of providers and facilities that treat mental health and substance use disorders and sought to join the carrier’s network, were accepted or stopped participating in the network
- Factors that might negatively impact members’ access to treatment for substance use disorders, including screening procedures, the supply of health care providers, limited capacity among treatment providers and reimbursement rates.
But the CT Mirror added,
“Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has vetoed a bill opposed by the insurance industry that would have required carriers to report information about the substance abuse treatment they have covered and their networks of mental health and substance abuse treatment providers.
Malloy said he supported the objective of the measure, which was intended to increase the amount of information available about substance abuse treatment and coverage, but was concerned that it could lead to inaccurate information being gathered.
Malloy took issue with that last requirement, saying in his veto message that it’s unusual for state law to require private entities to “report on activities to achieve public policy objectives,” and that he worried about the precedent it could set.
Wait, What? —- Governor Malloy said he is opposed to requiring private entities to “report on activities to achieve public policy objectives.”
But of course Malloy knows, as does every other public official, that the insurance industry and every other state regulated industry is required to report significant amounts of information that is designed to allow public officials and public agencies to “achieve public policy objectives.”
That is the very reason that certain industries are regulated.
But in this case, Malloy vetoed an important bill that was primarily designed to help improve access to substance use treatment for privately and publicly insured youth because he said it would require the insurance industry to require private entities to “report on activities to achieve public policy objectives.”
One would think that along with the $30,000 in campaign contributions the insurance industry could have, at least, come up with a better sounding explanation rather than urging Governor Malloy to use what is nothing other than an absurd and outright lie.
You can read the CT Mirror story here: http://ctmirror.org/malloy-vetos-substance-abuse-treatment-bill-opposed-by-insurance-industry/?hvid=4ILvLG