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Lawmakers debate 'grandfathering' unvaccinated children in effort to repeal religious exemption

By JENNA CARLESSO

The CT Mirror

December 23, 2019

As lawmakers prepare to release the first draft of a highly anticipated bill that would eliminate Connecticut’s religious exemption from vaccines, one sticking point in the debate is what to do about children already enrolled in school who have claimed the exemption.

Legislators in a bipartisan working group are mulling whether to make an exception for those children and allow them to remain in school. That means only new children entering the state’s public and private schools would be barred from choosing the religious exemption.

“The concept of ‘grandfathering in’ kids versus leaving an appropriate period for compliance – we’ve gone back and forth on that. That is one of the thornier issues,” said Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, a co-chair of the legislature’s Public Health Committee. “Even if we came to consensus today, I’m not so sure that necessarily would be reflected in the final bill. It’s still a subject for conversation.”

The 2020 legislative session is only three months long and lawmakers are up for re-election next year – two conditions that make it harder for controversial legislation to succeed. To give the bill a better chance of passing, proponents are exploring ways to make it less contentious, including allowing some unvaccinated students to stay in school.

© Copyright 2019, The Connecticut News Project. All Rights Reserved.

If cautiously, Lamont exploring health care reform

The CT Mirror

December 17, 2019

The bar for health care reform was set high in Democratic presidential politics, first by Bernie Sanders and more recently by Elizabeth Warren. She proposed $20.5 trillion in new federal spending to replace private health insurance with her version of “Medicare for All,” though she quickly hedged on how long it might take.

On the ground in Connecticut, one of the nation’s insurance capitals, the administration of Gov. Ned Lamont is part of a new bipartisan working group exploring incremental changes aimed at halting, or at least slowing, the rising costs of health insurance premiums, prescription drugs and other elements of health care. 

“You may love ‘Medicare for All’ and have an Elizabeth Warren bumper sticker on your car,” but sweeping national change is hardly at hand, regardless of who wins the White House and control of the U.S. Senate next year, said Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, co-chair of the state legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee. “We can’t wait that long.”

The involvement of the Democratic governor gives the new working group something lacking in the failed effort to pass a state health reform bill in 2019: The potential of priority status for the issue from Lamont, something that helped pass laws raising the minimum wage and authorizing the creation of a paid family and medical leave program.

© Copyright 2019, The Connecticut News Project. All Rights Reserved.

 

 



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