Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday signed legislation requiring insurers to offer a state-controlled standard health plan to individuals and small businesses. The law also provides for sanctions for hospitals and other health care providers who do not participate in reducing costs.
What was once envisioned as a so-called “public option” to be offered by the state has become a plan passed during the recently concluded legislative session requiring early reductions for 2025 of 15% from the plans now offered.
The law gives the state insurance commissioner the power to fine hospitals and health care providers. The plan will be developed by state, insurers and health care providers from January 1, 2022. It affects about 15% of the Colorado insurance market.
Advocates have argued that the initiative will expand health accessibility, particularly among exploited communities that include minorities and rural residents.
Opponents have said it could force several doctors and specialists who refuse to participate to leave the state. Some business groups have said that insurers could increase premiums for other plans to cover any losses in the state-supervised plan.
Polis has also signed into law a bill to create a prescription drug accessibility council tasked with reviewing and setting price caps for prescription drugs.
health care accessibility and accessibility have been top priorities for the Democratic governor since the 2018 elections.
He and Democrats who control the Legislature have struggled to import cheaper prescription drugs from abroad, address inequities in health care exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, provide free reproductive assistance to immigrants living illegally in the United States. The United States is limiting insulin prices and boosting mental health, among many other initiatives.
At a forum Tuesday about the recently concluded legislative session that Polis attended, Kelly Brough, CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, took Democrats to the helm of the health insurance bill. reported Public Radio Colorado.
Brough said she believes the plan could save money for individuals, but could also raise prices for those who receive insurance through large employers.
“Many of our legislators know it,” Brough said. “For many of them, it was more important to create the perception that the problem was solved than to solve this problem rather.”