Think Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol;
“Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner…You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail…This must be distinctly understood…”
When Governor Malloy’s new Health Care Cabinet met earlier this week, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who had helped to lead the SustiNet effort and was once one of its greatest champions, took great pains to ensure that no one – no one – thought that SustiNet was anything but dead.
Wyman proclaimed that “SustiNets not around anymore, there is no SustiNet.”
In fact, Wyman and State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who served as Connecticut’s Health Care Advocate at the time, were the co-chairs of the SustiNet Health Partnership Board of Directors that created SustiNet.
Their board worked for more than a year and a half developing what was recognized as a profound step forward in the battle to provide greater access to affordable, high quality health care in Connecticut.
When the SustiNet Plan was finalized last December, Lembo said that “this report provides the General Assembly with a roadmap for reform – and propels Connecticut to the forefront in addressing a nationwide health care and financial crisis.”
This extraordinary victory did not come easily.
The legislation creating the SustiNet Board of Directors and laying out the process for developing Connecticut’s healthcare reform plan was vetoed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell in 2009.
The Democratic Legislature took the unprecedented action of overriding that veto and setting in to motion the steps that would eventual lead to the SustiNet plan.
Last December, on the day the SustiNet Board was adopting its final report, a rally was held in Hartford. Dan Malloy, then the Governor-Elect, spoke at the rally.
As he did during his campaign for Governor he credited his mother for his lasting commitment to universal health care. Speaking to the crowd, Malloy said that “it was through her eyes and her advocacy that I think much of my commitment to making sure that all of our neighbors have access to quality health care really arouse.”
Surrounded by health care reform proponents and religious leaders, Malloy pointed out that SustiNet represented Connecticut’s move toward universal health care.
The Governor to be added “I’m not sure we’re at the top of the mountain, where we see the promise land but we know the promise land exists or at least a substantial portion of that which is necessary to provide the promise land is just around the corner,”
Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, another leading voice in the battle for SustiNet also spoke at the rally calling it “an impressive sight” and pointing out how much had changed over the last few years.
Pointing to the next governor, the next lieutenant governor and all the clergy and said “I remember a couple years ago when the clergy wanted to meet with the governor and the governor then refused,”
Now, 10 months later, SustiNet is dead…. Dead as a doornail.
At this week’s Health Care Cabinet Meeting, Dan Malloy’s special advisor on health reform, Jeannette DeJesús worked to put all that in the past saying “There’s a lot of new things happening that we need to consider, there are lots of new opportunities, and there are lots of people who want to play that have not participated in the past. Our goal is to really be inclusive at every turn.”
New things, new opportunities, lots of people who want to play a role?
But despite the thousands of hours spent developing the SustiNet plan, there was no discussion about what elements of the old plan were so terrible that the SustiNet plan needed to be trashed.