Connecticut Comptroller says survey shows majority of small business owners support government-sponsored health care; business groups disagree

Stephen Singer, Hartford Courant
·2 min read

Comptroller Kevin Lembo, seeking to build support for broader government involvement in health insurance, on Monday embraced a survey that says 72% of small-business owners in Connecticut support a public health insurance option to compete with private plans.

Business groups dispute the results of the survey by ALG Research, which conducts polling for Democratic candidates at the federal and state levels.

Overall, 71% of registered voters surveyed between Dec. 14 and 20 said they support a public health insurance option, while 18% oppose it, according to the survey by ALG Research. And 72% of small businesses support a public option, according to the survey.

In addition, 61% of small business owners and 52% of voters see the “greatest benefit of a public health insurance option as bringing down the costs of health care,” according to the survey.

Lembo and Democrats in the General Assembly are drafting legislation to establish a public option. The measure has yet to be submitted to legislative committees.

“This polling data is not surprising to those of us who have been pushing against the status quo for years, but the public health emergency brought on by the pandemic has worsened long-standing issues of access, affordability and equity, emphasizing the critical need to correct them,” Lembo said.

“Small business owners especially need our help, and the data shows, are strongly in support of creating new options in the marketplace,” he said.

Wyatt Bosworth, assistant counsel at the Connecticut Business & Industry Asssociation, said the survey results “came as a bit of a shock.”

“There’s no doubt heath care is a top three problem for businesses in this state,” he said. “But surveys really show an overwhelming distrust of Connecticut to meddle with their health care insurance.”

“If the comptroller wants data on what businesses think of health insurance he should talk to CBIA,” Bosworth said. “We’re the largest business group in Connecticut.”

Andy Markowski of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the term “public option” is vague.

“The one thing that is clear though is that small business owners have been concerned about the rising costs of employee health care for decades,” he said. “However, they also remain wary of the state government getting involved in something traditionally handled by the private sector.”

Business owners are concerned that state taxpayers might be forced to subsidize losses, he said.

Stephen Singer can be reached at ssinger@courant.com.