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April 4, 2016 Municipal Summit Reporter's Notebook

Numbers are ugly, status quo won't cut it

PHOTO | J. Fiereck Photography Karen Possidente-Leibiger, vice president, account manager with Connecticare, tells towns how to save money on health insurance.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) shared alarming statistics from the state Office of Policy Management contributing to the state's fiscal crisis.

From 2004 to 2008, employment growth was steady at about 3.8 percent, but wages grew 17 percent, he said. After the depths of the recession, from 2011 to 2015, employment growth was similar, but wages only grew 5.6 percent.

Too many high-paying jobs before the recession have been replaced with lower-paying jobs that produce less tax revenue, he said.

State revenue growth projections going forward are in the range of 2 percent, a far cry from the annual 7 to 9 percent growth the state once saw.

“We are not in the same cycle that we've always been in,” he said. “It's a new day, it's a new world. We cannot afford to continue to do things the way we have done it in the past because people don't have the same amount of income that they used to have and therefore state revenues, income tax and capital gains taxes are not going to be at those same levels.”

Doctors, insurer collaborate to save money

In a seminar titled, “Changing the Healthcare Landscape: How one Insurer is Tightening Relationships with Providers to Improve Employee Health,” Karen Possidente-Leibiger, vice president, account manager with Connecticare, shared how her organization is working with members' primary care physicians to improve care, lower hospital readmissions and ultimately save money.

The Farmington insurer is like a back office to primary care physicians, with Connecticare nurses working with physician office staff to ensure patients are getting preventive care and closing any gaps in care, she said.

“We have a 15 percent higher use of primary care physician visits and we have 6 percent lower use of emergency rooms and 5 percent lower use of inpatient acute care bed days or hospital days, and so to us that's an incredible result,” Possidente-Leibiger said. “We believe, and the providers believe, this is going to be the model that really helps mitigate the healthcare inflation trends.”

Provider collaboration arrangements are in place for 70 percent of Connecticare's members, she said.

Jeff Cross, vice president of underwriting at Connecticare said: “It's really a complementary care model whereas we spent the last 25 years sort of getting in the way of providers and putting up these rules and these barriers, and here this is a model of enabling them to give the right care at the right place at the right time and to offer the services that we have available in a complementary way.”

– John Stearns

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