Colorado Democrats to introduce rewritten ‘public option’ health insurance bill on Tuesday
DENVER – Colorado Democrats will propose an amendment on Tuesday that rewrites the statewide public health insurance option bill so that it no longer includes a state-run option, but would instead force insurers to offer the standardized plan developed by the state and reduce their insurance costs, the sponsors said Monday afternoon.
The last iteration of the measurement, HB21-1232, was rewritten following comments from insurers and the healthcare industry during and after the April 9 committee hearing, the sponsors said on Monday, and led most of the major healthcare groups and organizations health care providers, including the Colorado Hospital Association, to take a neutral stance on the measure rather than oppose it – should lawmakers pass the amendment.
“If the bill is amended as we have agreed with the sponsors, the Association becomes neutral. We will reassess our position if there are any significant changes to the bill that impact Colorado hospitals, ”the Colorado Hospital Association board said in a statement. “We thank the sponsors, Reps Dylan Roberts and Iman Jodeh and Senator Kerry Donovan, and members of the administration for their collaborative approach in working on this bill.”
Lawmakers said on Monday that the state would still come up with a standardized health insurance plan by January 1 of next year, which insurance companies would offer in the individual and small group insurance markets in every county in the state.
A draft version of the amendment obtained by Denver7 on Monday shows some of the changes since the bill was introduced and heard in committee.
The standardized plan for both markets will need to cover at least as much as the more restrictive plans offered by insurance companies, and insurance companies will need to offer the standardized plans in each county in which they operate from January 1, 2023. .
The premium rate for the plans must be at least 6% lower than the rates for the plans offered in 2021, adjusted for inflation.
Then, from 2024, the plan will need to be at least 12% lower than the plans offered in 2021, and in 2025 the plan will need to be at least 18% lower than the premium rates offered in 2021.
From 2026, insurers will only be able to increase the premium rates of the standardized plan by the amount of medical inflation during the past year.
According to the bill, if insurers do not believe they can meet these premium rate requirements, they or a health care provider can go to the Insurance Division for arbitration and explain why they cannot. meet the requirements at a public hearing. Insurers could also file an action plan if they do not meet the requirements.
Depending on what is heard at such a hearing, the Commissioner of the Insurance Division could set hospital reimbursement rates for each carrier to meet the premium rate or network requirements, depending on the draft amendment.
The amended bill would still be subject to approval of a 1332 federal waiver with the Department of Health and Social Services. If this is denied, the Insurance Division Commissioner would set premium rate requirements.
The state would do a survey, to be completed by Jan. 1, 2026, to determine how effective the standardized plans were for the Coloradans who bought and used them.
Previously, the measure had a two-step approach in which providers would have two years to offer a standardized plan that is 20% cheaper than the one they offer with their current plans. If the cost reductions were not met, the second phase would be launched, which would have established a state-run option to compete with insurers in the retail and small group markets.
Representative Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, one of the bill’s main sponsors, said on Monday that sponsors believe the bill is better suited for insurers and the healthcare industry, but also “we keeps on track “.
He called the introduced version a “starting point for negotiations” and said the sponsors had heard “constructive comments” in committee from the industry that they had brought to the drawing board.
“By using the existing infrastructure and not using a non-profit organization, we were able to make a deal,” Roberts said.
Representative Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora, said some of the considerations included making sure that suppliers received money for the services provided.
House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, said earlier this month that the original version of the bill was a non-starter with Republicans, and he said he didn’t was still not in favor of the bill after the changes on Monday, although he did not offer concrete proposals.
“What I think we all share and agree is that we want to see the same or better level of care and lower costs. And how that happens, I think, is a lot more of a symbiotic conversation than a bill that imposes certain numbers and certain percentages, ”McKean said in an interview. “And so, I think you see all of these changes, and I think that’s what it really says is that there isn’t a really good clear path. And I think that’s usually when we should all really just step back and say, well, that’s not the solution.
The bill’s sponsors disagreed and said they were happy with the way forward after discussions and work with the healthcare industry, sponsor Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, calling Monday an “exciting day”.
The amendment to the measure is expected to be presented and discussed at a meeting Tuesday in the House’s health and insurance committee.