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Rell: Not the Time for Health Reform Bills
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Two health care reform bills are headed to Governor Rell for her signature, but she says she has concerns about both of them.

The two bills passed through the General Assembly last weekend. One would open up the state employee health insurance plan to municipalities and the private sector. The other would put Connecticut on the path to universal health care.

Governor Rell says the state can't afford either.

Supporters say the universal health care bill would position Connecticut to bring down health care costs and take advantage of opportunities from federal health reform. Rell says she'd rather wait for Washington. 

"If we want to set Connecticut aside and set them up prior to the federal government actually passing some type of universal health care, I think it's a mistake. I think this should be federal legislation and I would prefer to wait for them to act first."

As for the bill that would allow small businesses, nonprofits and towns to join the the state health insurance plan, Rell says now is not the time. She vetoed a similar bill last year.

House Speaker Chris Donovan has long been a proponent of that plan. He's holding out hope it will become law, despite Rell's concerns.

"This is the direction we are moving, and if the governor vetoes it, I think she's moving backwards and not taking advantage of an opportunity. But I hope she doesn't. I hope she signs it."

Under the bill, a new pooled health plan would be self-insured. Legislative analysts estimate that would result in a one-time savings of 70 million dollars. But they did not offer a projection of the eventual costs of insuring the pool, saying it depends on the demographics of those who join the plan and the claims they file.

The universal health care bill would only set up a policy board for now, so it wouldn't cost anything in the next two-year budget, though the plan eventually calls for a state investment of $950 million dollars.