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An ‘unhealthy’ approach to the appearance of impropriety

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A particularly egregious appearance of impropriety involves the collision of insurance and politics in the Connecticut legislature.

The Day, a news website dedicated to happenings in and around eastern Connecticut, reports that “Republican freshman state Rep. John Scott introduced a health insurance coverage bill for university students in the current session that could have financially benefited his insurance company.”

Scott is president of an insurance agency which just happen to act as broker between the University of Connecticut and Consolidated Health Plans, Inc.

“Consolidated …provides university-sponsored health insurance to students, according to a copy of the contract obtained from UConn,” the website notes. “Students are not required to enroll in the university plan, but they must have health insurance of some kind or Medicaid. If UConn undergraduate students want university-sponsored health coverage, the plan by Consolidated Health is the only plan and Scott’s agency is the broker.”

Under Scott’s bill, Medicaid-covered students would not be able to decline the university’s health coverage, meaning he would essentially legislate himself a captive market.

Scott, of course, is claiming altruism. He introduced the bills to “save taxpayers money and provide better health care for students.” 

State Rep. Roberta Willis, D-Salisbury, co-chair of the higher education and employment advancement committee, told the website that Scott’s bill caught her eye and “ …the proposal would have required a student to pay for UConn’s plan even if the student were eligible for Medicaid.”

“So that’s where I found out what the gentleman did for a living,” she said. She had a colleague speak to Scott and the bill effectively died.

Scott did approach state ethics officials prior to running to inquire about how a bid for the legislature would affect his brokerage contract. He said if the ethics office told him he couldn’t run for state representative and keep the contract, he wouldn’t have run.

“Legally, I’ve done nothing wrong,” he told The Day. “It just boils down to perception. People think that I’ve done something wrong. My intent was not to benefit myself, but to save the taxpayers significant dollars and provide those students with better health care coverage.”

Whether or not that’s the case doesn’t matter. Whatever good intentions he had were sullied from the start.