State lawmakers got an overview on Monday of how the health policy debate in Washington may impact Connecticut residents and the state's bottom line.
Connecticut Congressman Chris Murphy sits on the House committee that will consider any health reform legislation. He told lawmakers the prospects for some kind of universal health care bill are better than they've been in decades.
Joy Johnson Wilson, a longtime health policy expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures, agrees. She joked that that feeling is so widespread that lobbyists who never agree are holding hands and seeing Kumbaya. But that could all change, she says, as they figure out who will pay for what.
"So I think Kumbayah might start turning into something else."
For example, she has questions about a proposal to expand Medicaid to cover single, low-income adults who don't have children, because states pick up a big share of the Medicaid tab.
"I can’t find anybody that tells me how they're going to fund this new mandatory category. Nobody will talk to me about that. That should be of concern."
Both she and Murphy say it's likely a health reform bill won't passed until the fall. In the meantime, there is stimulus money due to Connecticut for Medicaid, community-based health clinics, and the transition to electronic medical records.
Work on that transition doesn't have to wait for federal legislation, says Enrique Martinez-Videl with the group State Coverage Initiatives.
"You know, health care is local. Health care delivery is local. And so the states are really going to be have to do that on the ground, whether they get support from the federal government or not."
For now, it's unclear how much stimulus money Connecticut will receive for electronic medical records. Details of how that money will be distributed are still getting worked out in Washington.