The health care conversation in Connecticut goes public this week, with the launch of a series of public forums – dubbed “healthy chats” – across the state. The Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange, led by a 14-member board, was established as a quasi-public agency to satisfy requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). With President Obama re-elected, it would appear that it is full-speed ahead with implementation of the ACA, better known as ObamaCare. Starting in 2014, consumers and small businesses will have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance through an Exchange – a one-stop marketplace where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan that fits their health needs and have the same kinds of insurance choices as members of Congress.
In every state, Exchanges are to be designed to allow consumers to shop for and enroll in private health plans that meet their needs. Consumers will be able to learn if they are eligible for tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, or other health care programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Small employers will be eligible to receive tax credits for coverage purchased for employees through the Exchange. These competitive marketplaces make purchasing health insurance easier and more understandable and offer consumers and small businesses increased competition and choice.
The Administration recently extended the deadline for states to indicate if they would develop their own Exchanges, or defer to the federal government to organize their states.
In Connecticut, however, the process has been proceeding for some time. The state’s Exchange has been staffed and regular planning meetings have been held, in a public setting, to move forward with establishing the Exchange. Four different advisory committees composed of a variety of stakeholders have been charged with providing the board with diverse perspectives on key initiatives and operations, providing opinions and recommendations.
Now the Exchange is looking hear directly from the public, and to respond to questions or concerns about the unfolding plans. A series of “Health Chat” public meetings begin Tuesday, Nov. 27 in Hartford, and will be conducted around the state (see list below).
Each Healthy Chat is an open forum – a chance to meet and talk with Exchange CEO Kevin Counihan and other health care reform experts around the state. Attendance is free. Advance registration is encouraged to ensure ample seating but not required.
Time-of-event registration and refreshments start at 5 pm. Upon arrival, individuals will have an opportunity to write down and submit questions. Chats will run from 5:30 – 7:00 pm and panelists will answer as many questions as possible.
Hartford Tuesday, November 27 -Hartford Public Library
Waterbury Thursday, November 29 -Waterbury City Hall
New London Tuesday, December 4 - Mitchell College
New Haven Thursday, December 6 - Regional Hall Career High School
New Britain Tuesday, December 11 - Central Connecticut State University
Stamford Thursday, December 13 - University of Connecticut Stamford
Bridgeport Tuesday, December 18 - Bridgeport Holiday Inn
For additional questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-418-6420.