A few days after the Ethan Song tragedy, I told Ethan’s parents, Mike and Kristin, that if and when they ever wanted to do something legislatively in Ethan’s memory I would be there to help them. A few months later they reached out and said they knew what they wanted to do and wanted to get to work.
What they wanted to do was to close a loophole in current Connecticut law that prevented the police and prosecutors from charging the owner of the gun used in Ethan’s case with improper storage of a firearm. Under the previous law, it was illegal to store a loaded firearm around minors. Now, thanks to Ethan’s Law, it’s illegal to store any firearm — loaded or unloaded — in Connecticut around minors.
With the help of Rep. Vin Candelora (R-North Branford), we crafted a truly bipartisan bill — the first gun bill ever passed with overwhelming support from both parties — that closed the loophole.
Working with the Song family to write and pass Ethan’s Law is one of the proudest achievements of not just my time in public service but my entire life.
Mental health and addiction parity
Like many families, my family has a long history of addiction.
Sadly and far too often we pretend this isn’t the case with our families and we shy away from talking about it. That’s wrong.
What’s also wrong was the fact that insurance companies treated covering services for behavioral health differently than physical health. This year, after a two year fight, my bill (originally introduced in 2018 with then Sen. Ted Kennedy, Jr.) creating Mental Health Parity passed.
From now on, no one with a disease of the brain can be treated differently than someone with a disease of the body when it comes to insurance.
Pre-existing condition protection
One of the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the section that protects people with pre-existing conditions from discrimination.
Unfortunately, the ACA is under attack in Washington and by the courts. To make sure that pre-existing protections won’t go away even if the ACA does, I sponsored and passed a bill putting the protections into state law.
Leading the fight for a public option for insurance
This year, I led the fight along with my Insurance Committee co-chair, Sen. Matt Lesser, to create a public option for health insurance in Connecticut.
We spend a lot of time talking about how Connecticut needs to be a more business-friendly state. But most of the time that conversation focuses on taxes and regulations when, in reality, health care is almost always the single biggest expense for a business.
As the son of a small business owner, I saw this first-hand growing up. My mom rarely had health insurance for herself and if she did she was paying outrageous prices for it.
That’s precisely why Matt and I introduced the public option.
As you might have guessed, the bill was met with universal and strong opposition from Hartford’s powerful insurance lobby and, because of that opposition, the bill sadly never came up for a vote.
Will it ever? Yes. Why? Because the need for a public option only increases by the day as more and more individuals and small business owners get shifted into high-deductible health plans that cost more and cover less.
The people of Connecticut deserve an affordable option and I’m going to do all I can to give it to them in the future.
Lowering the cost of prescription drugs
In 2018, I wrote and passed Connecticut’s first prescription drug price transparency legislation. Starting next year, this bill requires drug companies to justify large price increases to consumers.
And while transparency and accountability is great, I know my constituents need relief from high prices right now and this year I introduced legislation to do just that by allowing Connecticut to import safe and cheap drugs from Canada.
According to AARP, this would save the average American 30–50% on the cost of their drugs.
My bill passed the House 112–28 but did not come up for a vote in the Senate before we adjourned for the year though I plan to make this proposal — and several others related to drug prices — my biggest focus in 2020.
The year in pictures
And the winner for the most important thing I did this year goes to…
Becoming a dad! My wife Meghan and I were blessed to welcome our son Jack into our lives in September. He’s awesome in every way and we are over-the-moon excited to be his parents.