Colorado option bill heading toward a Senate floor vote |

Colorado option bill heading toward a Senate floor vote

A bill aiming to create a lower-cost, higher-quality option for the individual and small group markets on Colorado’s health insurance exchange is heading to the state Senate floor for consideration.

Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, a sponsor of House Bill 1232 with Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, said she expects the bill to be on the Senate floor for debate and possible amendments Tuesday, and potentially up for a final vote as soon as Wednesday.

Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, (right) and Donovan’s dog, Gary, chat before the Colorado Senate and House of Representatives convened on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. Roberts and Donovan are sponsors of Colorado House Bill 1232, a bill that aims to create a lower-cost, higher quality health insurance option for the individual and small group markets on the state exchange, Connect for Health Colorado.
Photo by Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette

The bill has already cleared the House, where it passed on a 40-23 party-line vote.

Democrats hold a slimmer majority in the Senate, where the bill cleared the Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday and the Appropriations Committee Friday, both with party-line votes.

If approved and signed into law, House Bill 1232 would direct Colorado’s insurance commissioner to work with stakeholders to develop a new standard health benefit plan by next January. Insurance carriers would have to offer the standard plan in counties where they operate, starting in 2023, and reduce premiums by a total of 18% over three years.

The standard plan — dubbed the Colorado option — would be offered for the individual and small group markets on the Colorado exchange, Connect for Health Colorado. The two markets together account for about 15% of the state’s health insurance market. The small group market includes small businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Bill supporters say the measure is needed to help more people and small businesses in Colorado afford quality health insurance coverage and medical care, something too many have been struggling to pay for or going without, because of the cost.

Opponents question where the premium reduction savings are supposed to come from and argue that the bill will have negative and unintended consequences for health care providers and patients, and make it harder to keep or recruit doctors in the state.

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