I am writing to counter recent arguments that Connecticut’s economic woes mean that we can’t afford to pass ‘compassionate’ bills like House Bill 5387, AN ACT CONCERNING PAID FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE, despite strong bipartisan support inside the legislature and outside in the real world. Frankly, I am surprised by the lack of vision shown by opponents of the bill. How can we move forward and build our economy without creative solutions? The House passed HB 5386 last week by a vote of 142-4 and I would urge the Senate to move quickly to send it to the governor’s desk.
Connecticut is an affordable health care success. Under Democratic leadership, the state established Access HealthCT, the most efficient and successful state-level health insurance exchange of any state in the country! It was so well managed, that its CEO, Kevin J. Counihan, was selected to head the federal exchange. It was the enthusiastic support of engaged citizens that allowed us to pass landmark legislation despite strong opposition from the Republican-controlled general assembly. One might ask, where does their loyalty lie when they fight against beneficial healthcare measures intended to support their own constituencies?
Kudos to Neil Gorsuch! Much has been written by the left and the right about Neil Gorsuch — from his nomination for an opening on the Supreme Court to his voting on cases brought to the highest court in the land. So far, he has been conducting himself like all justices should: keeping personal opinions to himself, and speaking for our founders with a literal interpretation of the Constitution by using the definitions of words as they were used at the time of our founding.
Here we go again. Less than a year after a record 123 days without a budget, the legislature careens towards yet another budget crisis with 11th-hour negotiations and no clear path forward for addressing Connecticut’s looming financial crisis. Regardless of this year’s “fix,” the next governor and legislature will face a gaping $5 billion hole for the next two years that threatens our families, our jobs, and our employers. Last year’s crisis gave us a preview of what is in store if we stay on the current path: cuts to towns for police; cuts to education for our children; and cuts to programs that support the most vulnerable in our state.
The United States has been facing a housing affordability crisis for at least a decade, and it should come as no surprise that Connecticut’s cities have not been immune. The nation’s eviction rate peaked in 2006, when 7.5 percent of renter-occupied households had eviction filings made against them, and 3.1 percent were evicted from their homes. Connecticut’s eviction rate peaked earlier, at 3.9 percent in 2003, but remains slightly higher than the nationwide rate.
For more than 376,000 Connecticut residents each year, their medical needs are provided by a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), a community health center which gives patients top-level primary, dental and behavioral health care at a fraction of the cost of an emergency room visit. This includes First Choice Health Centers in East Hartford, Manchester and Vernon, which serves more than 21,000 people annually, many of whom otherwise cannot afford regular access to medical care.
In 48 states, the winner of the state’s popular vote is awarded all of its electoral votes. This is called winner-take-all. According to four lawsuits in four states (two red, two blue), winner-take-all is unconstitutional. It violates the doctrine of one person, one vote, the suits allege. It also disenfranchises everyone who voted for a losing presidential candidate. Plaintiffs want states to adapt what’s called proportional voting. That’s when a state’s electoral votes are awarded according to a candidate’s percentage of its popular vote. But if the plaintiffs prevail, they may not achieve what they say they will.
We already knew that Donald Trump is morally and ethically unfit. Many voters ignored his history as a shyster in business. The role as president has amplified his mindless self-serving self-interest for personal gain. Mafia criminality is an apt description. All the ongoing exploitation and corruption will be exposed completely. Hillary Clinton’s would have been subtle, but there. Trump’s is blatant so that we can’t miss it. We now have to take accountability for what is coming next. Our choice. Our legacy.
It is no secret that healthcare costs continue to rise, with premium increases topping 58 percent since 2006, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation; but what may be surprising to lawmakers in Hartford is that patient out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, co-insurance and higher specialty pharmacy tiers have outpaced premium increases by four times, which speaks directly to tactics being taken by health plans and their pharmacy benefit managers.
Today it is often stated that pushing municipalities to share services is critical to solving the state’s financial problems. I doubt that.
First, municipalities have already regionalized services more than many realize. Second, while the term regionalization is hastily deployed, business plans showing the savings and who gets them are rarely seen. I suspect many of the ideas floated would not stand up to analysis.