Public’s Right-to-Know Prevails
The General Administration and Elections Committee killed a bill Monday that would exempt private contractors from disclosing information under the state’s Freedom of Information laws.
Instead of addressing the bill the committee neglected to bring it up for a vote, which effectively killed the bill.
Rep. Chris Caruso, D-Bridgeport, co-chairman of the GAE committee, said there was a lot of pressure put on committee members regarding their vote on this bill. Not to mention, the bill goes “totally against the Freedom of Information Act,” he said.
“The committee shouldn’t be destroying the act,” Caruso said Monday following the brief committee meeting.
Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, co-chairwoman of the GAE committee, said the bottomline is “it undoes everything we worked for in the lawsuits.”
The lawsuits she referred to were filed by health care advocates against the four HMO’s, which formerly held the contracts for the state’s Medicaid program for low-income children and families.
In 2006, Superior Court Judge George Levine upheld two Freedom of Information Commission decisions that found the HMO’s perform a “governmental function” and therefore are subject to public accountability. The HMO’s argued the information requested contained proprietary business data and didn’t fall under freedom of information law.
Instead of enforcing his decision Judge Levine opted to let the legislature work it out through legislation. In the fall of 2007, Gov. M. Jodi Rell put her foot down and said she would not renew the contracts of any of the HMO’s that refused to comply with the state’s Freedom of Information Act. Since then Anthem, the largest HMO involved in delivering Medicaid services, dropped out of the bidding process for the new $3.5 billion, five-year contract.
Click here to read more about who did bid on that contract.