December 26, 2018

Malloy touts healthcare successes

HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will leave office Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019.
Photo | Contributed
Joined by students, state officials and lawmakers, Gov. Malloy signs into law legislation establishing the Office of Early Childhood as an official state agency on May 28, 2014.

Aiming to shape the narrative around his legacy, a recent expansive report from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's office credits his administration with widespread improvements to Connecticut's healthcare system.

With his two term, eight-year governorship set to end Jan. 9, the outgoing Democrat has conducted a series of exit interviews coinciding with the release of a 300-page report that underscored his bold, sometimes unpopular policy agenda.

The report -- The Malloy-Wyman Record: A Review Across Five Areas of Policy -- details the administration's work in five major state policy areas, including "Making Connecticut Healthier."

During Malloy's tenure, Connecticut cut its uninsured rate in half from over 8 percent to 3.8 percent in 2017 under the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to the report. That represents the state's lowest-ever uninsured population.

Malloy's office, assisted by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, said it also launched the "most successful state-sponsored health insurance exchange" with the debut of Access Health CT in Oct. 2013. The program made Connecticut one of the first states to establish a state-based health insurance exchange under the ACA.

"It was widely regarded as the most successful in the nation at that time," the report says of Access Health CT, which is set to wrap up its sixth annual open enrollment period next month.

With the help of federal funding under the ACA, the Malloy administration also expanded Medicaid coverage to an additional 240,000 low-income adults, with "access to more health care services than ever before," including new family planning, tobacco cessation and other services for children with autism spectrum disorder.

In June 2010, Connecticut gained federal approval to expand Medicaid coverage to an estimated 45,000 low-income adults who were previously enrolled in a "more limited" health care package under the State Administered General Assistance (SAGA) program.

However, state budget cuts earlier this year have forced tighter Medicaid eligibility, which was expected to affect nearly 14,000.

The report also credited the administration's efforts to combat the opioid crisis, which received national recognition. In April, the National Safety Council graded Connecticut and one of 13 states with a "B" grade and "improving'' for its work to protect residents from opioid overdoses. No state received an "A'' and 26 states did not earn a passing grade.

"While the crisis of opioid abuse is far from over, Connecticut put the tools in place to address both the opioid crisis, and to respond quickly to any future prescription drug abuse emergencies," the report says.

The administration also heralded its launch of a childhood vaccine program, which has lowered instances of whooping cough (pertussis), by 31 percent and chickenpox by 65 percent.

Malloy's administration also "rebalanced" long-term healthcare services, as more than 4,700 people were transitioned out of nursing homes and into more appropriate community-based care, the report says.

Like many other states, Connecticut during Malloy's tenure also addressed shortages of primary care providers, implementing in 2014 a pathway to independent practice for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to increase access to primary care for residents.

The administration also noted its work establishing Connecticut's medical marijuana program in 2012, which debuted in Jan. 2016. Today, the program has over 30,400 patients registered, 32 conditions approved for adults and eight for patients under 18, and over 1,000 certified prescribers.

At the legislature's order, Wyman also established the Office of Health Strategy (OHS) in 2018 to enhance collaboration among the state's health care reform strategies, which included a coordinated response to changes proposed by President Donald J. Trump's administration.

The change rolled into one agency the oversight of the state's all-payer claims database, the State Innovation Model (SIM) program, the Office of Health Care Access and the state's health information technology initiatives.

"Connecticut is a national leader in healthcare," the report said. "This transformation is only the beginning of an era of modernization and improvement that Connecticut must continue to embrace."

View the Malloy-Wyman report here

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