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News from State Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney

July 26, 2016

Capitol address
Legislative Office Building
Room 3300
Hartford, CT 06106-1591

E-mail me here

On the Web

Capitol: 860-240-0375
Toll-free: 1-800-842-1420

Improving Our Health Care System

doctor chart
Although the legislature passed a broad health care reform bill last year, there is still a lot of work to do.

This year I continued my work to improve the Connecticut health care system.

SB 351; PA 16-95: An Act Concerning Matters Affecting Physicians, Health Care Facilities and Medical Foundations

This Act includes some innovative reforms. First, the act limits non-compete clauses in physician employment contracts to 1 year/15 miles. Previously some hospitals had used contracts covering nearly half the state and thus forcing some physicians to leave their patients behind if they chose to leave hospital employment. This coercive practice can have a devastating effect on the doctor patient relationship.

health crossThe act also creates a new employment option for physicians. It allows a new type of physician-controlled entity that can employ physicians. It allows this entity to establish a "medical foundation" which is the mechanism through which hospitals currently employ physicians. Hospitals had been the only entity that could form these foundations, which are the manner in which physician employment is possible in Connecticut. This change should begin to level the playing field between physicians and hospitals and allow physicians to retain their autonomy and their relationships with patients. The new employment model will allow these entities to negotiate reimbursement rates with insurance companies for the employed physicians AND to raise capital.

Additionally, this legislation requires that hospital bills include the cost-to-charge ratio for the hospital. The cost-to-charge ratio measures the difference between what it costs a hospital to perform a service and how much the hospital charges the patient for the service. It also allows the Governor's Healthcare Cabinet to study and report on possible licensure of retail health clinics.

SB 289; PA 16-77: An Act Concerning Patient Notices, Designation of a Health Information Technology Officer, Assets Purchased for the State-Wide Health Information Exchange and Membership of the State Health Information Technology Advisory Council

This Act establishes a Health Information Technology Officer (HITO) who reports to the Lt. Governor. HITO will oversee all of the Health Information Technology programs in Connecticut. This will, among other things, ensure that Connecticut is able to create the strong Health Information Exchange required by PA 15-146 last year. It will ensure that patients (and their physicians) have direct access to a patient's medical record, which is crucial in order to provide quality care. The HITO position will be federally funded.

SB 371; PA 16-214: An Act Concerning the Use of Experimental Drugs

This Act will allow (under specific circumstances) terminally ill patients to have access to drugs that are still in the approval process provided the pharmaceutical company that makes the drug agrees to offer this access. This legislation is meant to assist patients who face certain death without treatment and for whom there is no approved treatment. While there is certainly no guarantee that the experimental treatment will assist these patients, those with terminal conditions who want to try should be allowed to do so if they are willing to accept the risk.

SB 309; SA 16-18: An Act Establishing a Task Force to Study Value-Based Pricing of Prescription Drugs

This legislation establishes a task force to study value-based pricing of prescription drugs that will report to the General Assembly by January 2017. It is obvious that the escalating cost of prescription medication is placing an extraordinary burden on Connecticut residents. States are somewhat limited on what actions they can take to ameliorate this financial burden. However, it is important to learn exactly what measures states can take to affect this issue.

I am hopeful that this task force together with the report from the Healthcare Cabinet cost containment study will offer Connecticut a path toward affordable, quality health care.


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My mailing address is:
Senator Martin Looney, Legislative Office Building, Room 3300, Hartford, Connecticut 06106
Capitol telephone: 860-240-0375, or Toll-free: 1-800-842-1420

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