A Colorado bill to lower the cost of medicare is passed through the Colorado legislature and forwarded to the governor, who has indicated it is a top priority for his office.
HB21-1232 was supposed to be a fully-fledged public option – that is, the state offered an insurance scheme – but this was dropped during negotiations. What received final approval Monday night at Colorado House has undergone several changes.
Under the bill, the state will require insurers to offer the Colorado Health Benefit option by Jan. 1, 2023, in all 64 counties. It will be available for the personal and small group markets, which cover around 15% of Coloradans, and by 2025 its premiums will have to be 15% lower than the rates offered by insurers in 2021 (adjusted for medical inflation). . It will also establish benchmarks for the types of care covered by the scheme, including pediatric care and other essential benefits.
Sponsors of the bill hope the measure will encourage more uninsured people to purchase insurance.
“Ultimately, we have created a ‘Colorado Option’, which means that it is available to all Coloradians who want to buy it, that it will be affordable and of good quality,” said the Democratic representative of Avon, Dylan Roberts. noted. “And we’re no longer tied to what insurance companies want to offer and where they want to offer it – we recognize that every Colorado resident deserves access to an affordable insurance plan.”
Healthcare lobbyists have spent a record amount to oppose the bill, claiming that cutting costs would hurt the industry financially – especially small hospitals. And negotiations between lawmakers and health industry representatives like the Colorado Hospital Association and the Colorado Medical Society have been fairly constant throughout the legislative session.
One thing the sponsors ditched was a provision that would have fined health care providers for not agreeing to the plan, although the state insurance commissioner could still force them to do so if he didn’t. There were not enough options for those on the plan in every county.
The Colorado Association of Health Plans, which represents insurers, is still against the measure, saying there is no research or evidence to support premium reduction targets. Executive director Amanda Massey said in a statement that the group will have discussions with lawmakers “when this policy fails.”
“The math does not hold water – the government cannot add costly health insurance benefits, increase hospital reimbursement rates, eliminate provider participation and simultaneously demand lower health insurance rates.” , she said.
Republicans also argued that the bill involved the government too much in health care. Parker GOP Senator Jim Smallwood called this a step towards free, government-provided health care.
“I think at this point it’s a bill setting hospital tariffs that is really a political movement right now much more than a fundamental movement,” he said.
But Colorado Alliance for Health Care Options backed the bill, and Center for Health Progress policy director Ranya Hetlage in a statement called it a “victory for black and brown communities, people in the regions. rural areas, small businesses and many others who deserve to be able to afford health and care coverage.
Only Washington has adopted a public-private health insurance plan, although it has not been available in that state as Colorado Democrats hope.