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


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.