Hearing still planned on insurance dispute despite agreement

Connecticut lawmakers are moving ahead with hearings next week about the now-settled impasse between Hartford HealthCare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield despite an agreement on a new, three-year contract.

Democratic state Rep. Sean Scanlon, House chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, said Friday that while he's glad the two sides ended their seven-week dispute last week, lawmakers "owe it to the citizens of this state to find out what happened" and to learn how to avoid similar prolonged disputes in the future.

"My office has been getting calls and emails from people with truly unsettling stories whose lives were impacted by this dispute," Scanlon said. "I hope anyone impacted will consider coming to the hearing and sharing their story with us or submitting online testimony."

An informational hearing is planned for Tuesday at the Legislative Office Building, beginning at 10 a.m. Representatives from Anthem and Hartford Healthcare, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo and Connecticut's Healthcare Advocate, Ted Doolittle, are scheduled to testify. At noon, the committee will hold a public hearing in the same room. Members of the public are encouraged to testify about their experiences with the impasse.

Testimony also can be submitted by email to instestimony@cga.ct.gov.

Anthem and Hartford HealthCare had failed to reach an agreement Sept. 30 on a new contract. Due to the missed deadline, thousands of Connecticut patients insured through Anthem, including many state employees, were considered out-of-network and faced higher out-of-pocket costs.

The three-year contract announced Nov. 18 restores access to physicians, facilities and services within the network to patients with Anthem insurance. It's retroactive to Oct. 1, meaning patients who received out-of-network care from HHC since that date will pay what they would have paid if HHC had been in network all along.