State Rep. William Petit (R-New Britain, Plainville) and the office of the Healthcare Advocate invited older adults to the Plainville Senior Center on Tuesday, April 30 to discuss many aspects of health care coverage that seniors need to know.
Dr. Petit introduced Ted Doolittle, a state healthcare advocate with the office of the healthcare advocate. Petit described OHA as “basically an independent branch of government that looks out for you,” rather than the government or insurance companies.
Doolittle described OHA as “the best kept secret in state government.” OHA is funded by an assessment (almost like a tax) on the insurance companies that are licensed to sell insurance in Connecticut. Those funds are used to fund the department of insurance, he explained, which regulates insurance companies, and to fund the OHA.
The OHA staff is comprised of about 18 people such as nurses paralegals, attorneys, and consumer information reps. Together, they work with legislators in order to enact policy improvements. They also work closely with the healthcare insurance and healthcare provider industries.
“The most important thing I want you to know about is the other function of the office, which is to represent residents of Connecticut who are having trouble accessing healthcare, in particular, if you’re having trouble paying for healthcare or with your healthcare insurance,” said Doolittle. “And, when I say health insurance, I don’t just mean the insurance that you have when you’re working—we do mean that—I don’t just mean the insurance you can now buy on the Obamacare exchange—I do mean that also—but I also am talking about Medicaid and Medicare.”
The OHA doesn’t just work to represent the people with insurance, they are capable of helping the uninsured as well. Think of them, as Doolittle said, as the financial side of healthcare.
Doolittle was appointed to his role by the governor, and is appointed for a specific term of years. He does not answer to the governor, but in order to be reappointed, he would need to be reappointed by the governor.
To learn more about the office of the healthcare advocate, please visit their website, www.ct.gov/oha, or contact the office directly by phone, (860) 331-2441, or through their toll free number, 1-866-466-4446.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.