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Sleepy Little Connecticut: The Tip of The National Health Care Reform Spear?

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Within walking distance of the corporate headquarters of

a half dozen of the Titans of the insurance industry, on

Monday afternoon the Connecticut State Legislature delivered

an override of Governor Jodi Rell's veto of the landmark,

comprehensive health care reform legislation, known as the

Sustinet Bill.


The most ambitious plan for universal health care in the

country took place outside of Washington, away from the

roving hoards of K Street lobbyists. In the shadow of the

imposing columned facade of the Hartford insurance Company,

and the behemoth home of Aetna, the successful coup de gras

was mounted by the grassroots participation of clergy, small

business, health care providers and labor.


Juan A. Figueroa president of the organization, Universal

Healthcare Foundation of Connecticut, said,

"Under Sustinet we anticipate affordable public

health insurance options starting in 2012. The historic

override is possible because of the courageous leadership

of the state legislature. Connecticut is now positioned on

the national health care reform stage surpassing Massachusetts

with a 'Smart Plan' that will expand coverage and lead us on

the road to better health and health care. "

The Sustinet law mandates the creation of a nine member

committee to be known as the Sustinet Board. The board,

co-chaired by State comptroller Nancy Wyman ( D ) and State

Healthcare Advocate Kevin Lembo, has been created to design

the framework for a plan to provide health insurance to the

state's 300,000 uninsured and to broaden the range of

insurance options available to employers and to individual

payers.


The Sustinet Board will have seventeen months to craft a

plan to be brought before the state legislature in January

of 2011. In the event health care reform legislation is

enacted at the federal level the board by law must present

its recommendations within 60 days.

Universal Healthcare Foundation's Juan Figueroa said "The

state will adapt to whatever happens on the federal level.

It's possible that a wide reaching plan on the federal level

would eliminate the need for a state plan."


It is Figueroa's hope that Sustinet will "position

Connecticut to shape national debate on health care reform,

and capture any federal money that becomes available.