Coloradans shouldn’t be forced to choose between paying for their health care or their mortgage, child care, or other essential expenses

(Apr. 23) – A bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, and Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, is headed to the Governor’s desk. HB19-1004 will create a new affordable and competitive health care option in the state of Colorado that will be available to families and individuals when purchasing health insurance. Upon signature of the Governor, Colorado will become the first state in the nation to ever set in place a process for offering a public health insurance option.

“The cost of health insurance continues to rise to unaffordable levels, especially in our mountain communities and across rural Colorado. This bill is a reasoned, smart approach to bring competition to the marketplace and to bring down the cost of health care,” said Rep. Roberts. “Coloradans should not be forced to forgo the security of health insurance for themselves and their family simply because of costs. They deserve choice when they are purchasing insurance and that is what this bill will bring. This bipartisan effort is a uniquely Colorado solution that is carefully crafted in a responsible way to create a new, affordable health insurance option in Colorado.”

Currently, there are 14 counties in our state with only one option on the individual market and many more counties are left with a small number of options for health insurance. This bill will increase competition in the market by setting in place the process of creating a statewide public health insurance option that will be first-of-its kind in the United States.

The bipartisan HB19-1004 will start developing a publicly supported health insurance option that leverages the efficiencies of our current state infrastructure and will be available for purchase by Coloradans as soon as the fall of 2020. This public option will help put affordable health insurance in reach for many hardworking families across our state.

Eagle County and Routt County, represented by Rep. Roberts, have some of the highest health care premiums in the entire country.

The bill directs experts at the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing and the Division of Insurance to create a proposal for implementing a public option that leverages existing state infrastructure. That proposal must be presented to the Joint Budget Committee, House Public Health and Human Services Committee; House Health and Insurance Committee, Senate Health and Human Services Committee and Joint committees during SMART Act hearings later this year.

When exploring the creation of a public option, the departments must consider affordability to the consumer, administrative and financial consideration for the state, ease of implementation and impacts to the market as a whole.

The bill was approved in the House with a bipartisan vote of 45-18. It passed in the Senate with a final vote of 19-16. HB19-1004 was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail. After the House concurred with Senate amendments last night, the bill now heads to Governor Jared Polis for his signature.

The Proposal For Affordable Health Coverage Option bill is part of a larger package of bills that House Democrats have introduced this year to help lower the cost of health care.

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