Office of Health Care Access
CRISTINE A. VOGEL, Commissioner
Established – 1994
Statutory authority – CGS Chapter 368z
Recurring operating expenses – $2,588,398
The mission of the Office of Health Care Access (OHCA) is
to ensure that the citizens of
OHCA oversees the state’s health care delivery system to ensure that access to affordable, quality care is available to the citizens of the state. The agency’s major functions are administration of the certificate of need (CON) program; health care data collection, analysis and reporting; and hospital financial review and reporting.
The agency is responsible for managing the CON program in order to promote appropriate health facility and service development and access to health care. The CON process ensures that a proposed project meets public need while preventing excessive, unnecessary, or duplicative development of facilities or services and that no reduction or termination of service will have an adverse effect on health care access. The process also allows for public opportunity to comment during health facility/service project development.
State statute also empowers OHCA with the ability to initiate a formal investigation or inquiry into or hearing on matters under agency jurisdiction, if necessary, with the authority by law to subpoena witnesses and require the production of pertinent records, papers and documents.
In addition, the Office of Health Care Access has statutory authority to gather and analyze significant amounts of hospital financial data and hospital billing and discharge data. Information collected, verified, analyzed and reported on includes hospital expenses and revenues, uncompensated care volumes, and other financial data as well as hospital utilization, demographic, clinical, charge, payer and provider statistics.
The Office of
Health Care Access’ CON program, data collection, research, analysis and
planning activities and related initiatives have a significant impact on the
health care delivery system within
health system development by overseeing and coordinating statewide health
system planning and by administering the CON program for hospitals, other types
of health care facilities and for all acquisition of CT scanners, MRI scanners,
PET and PET/CT scanners, linear accelerators, cineangiography equipment, new
technology being introduced to the state and major medical equipment. The CON program is designed to promote cost containment,
prevent unnecessary duplication of health care facilities and services, guide
the establishment of health facilities and services and ensure that high
quality health services are provided. The process ensures that capital and technology
investments in the health care industry are in the best interest of the
to the overall financial well being of the state’s health care delivery system
by analyzing acute care hospitals’ financial condition and by assisting the
Department of Social Services in administering the disproportionate share
payments to hospitals (DSH) program. The DSH program protects access to
hospital care for the uninsured and underinsured by providing financial
assistance to hospitals that provide a disproportionate amount of such care.
Hospitals and other health care facilities must be financially viable in order
to deliver quality, cost-effective health care. By collecting and analyzing
numerous financial data, OHCA is able to provide a picture of the financial
OHCA’s data collection, analysis and public release of health care utilization information is a cornerstone of the agency, and allows the agency to function as both policy advisor and information resource to a variety of organizations and individuals. OHCA regularly provides legislators, health care policy makers, the health care industry and members of the general public with detailed analyses of health care trends and health care topics relevant to public policy and public interest.
In addition, the agency continues to plan for providing access to affordable health insurance for all state residents. OHCA has focused on educating policy makers regarding access to health care coverage through data collection, the synthesis of information and the preparation of briefings and presentations.
OHCA uses numerous vehicles to inform the public, legislators and the health care industry of important health care issues and trends. OHCA’s website offers current information about the agency and its activities, access to complete OHCA reports and publications, Certificate of Need decisions, and hospital budget and utilization data. The site also includes statutes, regulations, legal notices, agency forms, and links to relevant national, federal, state, and organizational health care-related websites. The address is: www.ct.gov/ohca.
In order to address its statutory requirements and fulfill its mission, OHCA regulates the constantly evolving hospital and health care industry. The agency maintains a focus on issues related to hospital finance, hospital utilization and access to health care coverage. Some key agency accomplishments are described below.
In 2006, OHCA issued 55
CON decisions, 87 CON determinations and 39 CON modifications. Also in 2006, OHCA invoked its
investigatory powers, pursuant to Section 19a-633, CGS, on two occasions.
First, in May 2006, OHCA initiated an investigation to review utilization and
capacity of acute care services provided in the
OHCA continued its ongoing examination of access to health insurance coverage, fielding separate telephone surveys of Connecticut households, employers, and two groups that the agency’s prior research had shown are at high risk for being uninsured -- Hispanic adults and young adults (ages 19 to 29). From 2001 through 2006, OHCA’s survey research was supported by State Planning Grants (SPG) competitively awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The SPG program helped states design policies to expand access to affordable health insurance coverage. Information from OHCA’s surveys was used by legislators, state agencies, healthcare advocates, municipal governments, health care providers and other stakeholders to inform planning and policy making efforts.
During the 2007 session of the General Assembly, OHCA successfully supported the passage of Public Act 07-149 -- An Act Concerning Revisions to Office of Health Care Access Statutes. This act redefines several terms OHCA uses in calculating uncompensated care for the disproportionate share hospital program and helps the agency’s financial unit fulfill its statutory obligations. It also removes obsolete references and makes minor technical changes to statutory language.
In addition, PA 07-2 -- An Act Implementing the Provisions of the Budget Concerning Human Services and Public Health, requires the Department of Public Health, in consultation with OHCA, to contract for the development of a statewide health information technology plan. The plan must include general standards and protocols for health information exchange, electronic data standards for the development of an integrated electronic health information system and pilot programs for health information exchange.
· In accordance with CGS Sec. 19a-670, OHCA’s Annual Report on the Financial Status of Connecticut’s Short Term Acute Care Hospitals was published in December 2006.
· OHCA’s Affirmative Action Plan was submitted to the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities on February 15, 2007 and approved by the Commission at its May 10, 2007 meeting. This plan complies with CGS Secs. 46a-70 through 46a-78.
· OHCA’s 2006 Annual Report to the Governor and the General Assembly, published in April 2007 more fully describes agency achievements, objectives, and initiatives.
· OHCA maintains a registry of health care facilities that have sought exemption from CON review in accordance with CGS Sec. 19a-639a.