The Capitol Beat: September 23-27, 2013

From Gaffney, Bennett & Associates

September 23, 2013 – September 27, 2013

AFL-CIO President John Olsen takes a final bow.  Keno receives blessing of CT Lottery board members.  Con Edison operations spark criticism, outrage. Insurance Exchange girds for launch and glitches on Oct. 1.  And more…

  • John Olsen Signs Off with Signature Call to Action.

For a quarter-of-a-century he has been the face of the AFL-CIO in Connecticut as its president.  On Wednesday, he took his final bow but not before imploring his troops to adapt to changing times at the federation’s annual convention.  “If we don’t change direction, if we don’t change what we’re doing, we will die,” Olsen said. “The day that there isn’t a debate and discussion going on in this hall, there’s something wrong — because we’re alive.”  Lori J. Pelletier, also a fixture at the capital, has been selected to succeed Olsen.

  • Keno One Step Closer to Realization.

The CT Lottery Board Thursday authorized developing the infrastructure to land Keno in bars, restaurants and other venues by June 1, 2014, provided the Native American tribes in Connecticut approve a profit-sharing plan.  Next up…video slots?

  • Con Ed Redundancy System Fails, Exposing System’s Frailty.

A 138-kilovolt feeder line out of Mount Vernon, NY, serving as a backup for the primary feeder line that had been taken out of commission for maintenance by Con Ed, itself became disabled this week causing commuter chaos from Stamford to Grand Central.  Governor Malloy has indicated it could be weeks before the problem is resolved, prompting Metro-North to bring diesel trains and buses on line to help with traffic flow. CT DOT has also suspended non-essential road and bridge repairs in Fairfield County in hopes of reducing some congestion while trains are down.  The problem with the backup feeder line has re-energized debate about planning for emergencies and employing alternative electrical systems (e.g. decentralized macro grids), among other things. Stay tuned.

  • Legislative Committee Issues Phase I Update on ED Usage, Impact on State Medicaid Budget. 

The Program Review and Investigations Committee (PRI) this week released the first phase of its study on Hospital Emergency Department Use and Its Impact on the State Medicaid Budget.   Among the study’s findings: 85 percent of the people who visit the ED are treated and discharged, while 92.5 percent of Medicaid clients are treated and released; between fiscal year 2008 and 2012, ED visits increased 11 percent; in 2012, Medicaid clients made a total of 607,045 visits to the ED, of that total 338,183 were repeat visits; total ED costs for Medicaid recipients treated and discharged in 2012 were almost $208 million (not including ambulance costs), while  the average cost-per visit was $342 and the average cost per patient was $773; and one of the primary ways Medicaid clients receive health care in the community is through federally qualified health care centers. The next phase of the PRI study will examine who the frequent users of ED services are, why they are coming to the ED, and what types of capacity and services are available in other settings to serve them.

  • CT Insurance Exchange Chief Ready for Oct. 1 Rollout…and Glitches. 

With recent news that the federal data hub that feeds critical information to state exchanges is not likely to be fully operational by the October 1 startup, Kevin Counihan, CEO of Access Health CT, said his organization has some contingencies in place to help determine eligibility Nonetheless, Counihan said he still expects short- and long-term glitches, adding that it could take years for Obamacare to run smoothly.  “Look at the glitches that happened with Medicare Part D,” he said.

  • Did you know…

The state Department of Labor has launched a new website to provide employment information for workers in their teens and early 20s.  Click here to visit the site:

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