Lamont proposes legislation to expand health care access, address staffing shortages

Lamont proposes legislation to expand health care access, address staffing shortages

February 11, 2022 0 By Brent Addleman

Citing health care as a human right, Gov. Ned Lamont said he has introduced a comprehensive package of legislation designed to improve the health of the state’s residents while at the same time reducing costs.

The governor announced the $72 million package that is designed to expand access to health care while addressing the staffing shortage that is affecting the industry.

“Healthcare is a human right that too many Connecticut residents struggle to afford,” Lamont said in a news release. “Last year, our bipartisan budget created Covered Connecticut to provide nearly 40,000 more people no-cost healthcare through Access Health CT, which is also offering big savings in healthcare for everyone. Although subsidies help, we must also address the high and rising underlying costs of care.

“That’s why I’m proposing legislation to make prices more transparent, safely re-import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada, and cap run-away prices on prescription drugs here at home. Three in ten Americans report cutting pills in half, skipping doses, or swapping out drugs to save money – with the legislature’s help, that stops now.”

According to the release, the legislation would seek to codify the cost and quality benchmarks for health care by increasing price transparency and reducing prescription drug costs. The legislation would work to cap manufacturer’s annual price increase to no more than inflation plus 2%. Plus, it would authorize the Department of Consumer Protection to oversee importing lower-cost Canadian drugs.

The legislation, according to the release, would establish primary care spending targets by putting health-care provider information on insurance cards, and direct companies to adopt health enhancement programs. Residents would then have access to health care that mirrors programs open to state employees that offer lower premiums and financial incentives to those who complete free screenings recommended by the U.S. Preventative Services Taskforce.

According to the release, the legislation would give rate increases to adult dental care and family planning services designed to expand the Medicaid network and adopt a pair of interstate occupational licensing compacts to solve red tape issues for doctors and psychologists.

The legislation would invest $35 million to expand education and training opportunities for nurses and mental health providers and invest an additional $20 million in financial aid for nursing and mental health students. It would also feature a $17 million investment in student-loan forgiveness programs.

According to the release, the governor’s budget adjustments would allocate $100 million in federal taxpayer dollars to expand mental health services in the state to assist adults and children dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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