Green Party of Connecticut

Thornton for Governor

Ken Krayeske, 860-995-5842

November 06, 2006

Green Calls for Compassion, and Demands Single-Payer Health Care

HARTFORD, CT -- If Connecticut wants universal health care, it must look beyond the Rowland-Rell administration for help in securing the human right of proper medical attention.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell's 12 years in office are replete with examples of poor health care management: secret insurance contracts, hospital closings, and job cuts, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton said today.

"Why hasn't the state stepped up to insure that health care is available to everyone?" Green Party gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton asks. "The money is there. Our priorities are askew. With the Green Party in office, the residents of Connecticut would be assured that everyone would have equal access to health care."

Starting in 1995, the state Department of Social Services began doling out more than $744 million in contracts with for-profit HMO's to manage the health care for more than 300,000 Medicaid recipients, among them adults and children, according to attorney Sheldon Toubman at the New Haven Legal Assistance Association.

Toubman has led a fight to open the records of these companies to the sunshine of the Freedom of Information Act, with no help from DSS.

"We are not allowed to know how this money is being spent, and if it being spent effectively, and that is a tragedy," Thornton said.

Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein is no less pleased with the system's poor management, especially where it concerns the mental health of children. She is demanding that three of the four insurance companies comply with the FOI ruling to open the records.

"I remain very concerned that, without appropriate public oversight and transparency of practices, this system will not successfully meet the expectations for service to chidlren," Millstein wrote in a July 6, 2006 letter to Patricia Wilson-Coker, the head of DSS.

Good leadership in the Governor's office could change this, Thornton said.

"The governor could stop all this nonsense, but she chooses to issue platitudes and do nothing," Thornton said.

The promise from Rowland/Rell was that privatizing the insurance system would save money and improve health care access. But in Toubman's Oct. 6 letter to all gubernatorial candidates, he wrote, "After eleven years, the promise has not been fulfilled."

The people of Winsted are waiting, too. In 1996, during the first term for the Rowland-Rell administration, the 92-year-old Winsted Memorial Hospital closed due to the pressures of rising insurance costs and an unfair hospital tax that took money from small, rural hospitals and pumped that cash into large, urban hospitals.

Fast forward to Oct. 5, 2006, when the New Milford Hospital announced it was cutting the equivalent of 20 full-time employees and freezing the wages of the entire managerial staff because of more than $1 million in cuts from federal Medicare reimbursements.

"I find it unbelievable that when Connecticut desperately needs health care infrastructure and jobs, the Governor would allow a hospital to eliminate people," Thornton said. "Where is the compassionate response for the patients and their families, and the workers and their families? I know my grandmother wouldn't accept any of this in good conscience."

Thornton is calling for an elimination of the redundancies in our health care system, the reduction of the profit-motive in health care and for the creation of a single-payer health care system.