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Briefs from the state Capitol

March 3, 2006

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Insurance co-payments for medical scans such as MRIs, CAT scans and similar procedures would be capped under legislation being introduced in the Senate.

State Sen. Thomas Gaffey, D-Meriden, said current law can force patients with chronic illnesses to pay hundreds of dollars a year if they require multiple tests.
The bill would cap individual co-payments at $50 and impose an annual cap of $200.

"In Meriden, there's not much $200 disposable income," said Dr. Harry Hajedemos, a Meriden radiologist, referring to the cost for individual tests. "Patients are fighting an illness and they don't need financial hardship as a second illness to fight."

Susan Frederick of Meriden said her mother, Joan Frederick, had a double heart bypass and was then diagnosed with cancer. Her doctors recommend tests and chooses based on which she can afford.

"She can't have all the exams done that they want her to have done," Susan Frederick said. "It's either you put food on the table or you get the medical tests you may need."

Similar legislation passed the Senate last year but the House did not act on it before the session ended.

A spokeswoman for the Connecticut Insurance Department said a 2002 directive allowed managed care plans to start charging co-payments up to $200 for imaging.

Spokeswoman Debra Korta said the rules for other procedures were also changed. She said the insurance commissioner has met with radiologists to discuss their concerns and consider alternatives, though she could not provide the status of those talks.

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