Gov signs McCluskie, Roberts health care bills into law

(May 17) – Gov. Polis signed bills sponsored by Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, and Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, into law today in Silverthorne and Vail. House Democrats are committed to lowering the cost of health care for hardworking families and these bills help deliver on that promise.

First up was the bipartisan HB19-1168, State Innovation Waiver Reinsurance Program law which will help reduce insurance premiums on the individual market by 15-30 percent by helping insurers with high-cost insurance claims, providing much-needed relief to hardworking Coloradans across the state–many of whom are paying up to a third of their income on monthly premiums.

Coloradans on the individual market are struggling to keep up with the out-of-control costs of health care, particularly in rural areas of the state. By establishing a reinsurance program Colorado can stabilize the individual marketplace, increase health insurance participation and share the risks more broadly.  Colorado, particularly on the Western Slope, has some of the highest health insurance costs in the country forcing families and individuals to forgo health insurance coverage and putting them at major risk of medical debt if emergencies arise.

“We put a great deal of effort into building a reinsurance program that will work for Coloradans. I am thrilled to see it be signed into law so working people can start to save money on health care. Reinsurance is a proven concept that will work to lower the cost of health insurance premiums, especially on the Western Slope,” said Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “This new law will have a meaningful reduction in health insurance rates on the individual market across the state. We don’t have any more time to waste. People are deciding between paying their mortgage and their health insurance right now.”

Rep. McCluskie introduced the bipartisan bill in the House with Rep. Janice Rich, R-Grand Junction. Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and Sen. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, are the Senate sponsors.

Gov. Polis then signed Rep. Dylan Roberts’ bipartisan HB19-1004. This new law will start developing a publicly supported health insurance option to help put affordable health insurance in reach for many hardworking families across our state. The public option will leverage the efficiencies of our current state infrastructure for greater savings, and will have a goal of becoming available for purchase by Coloradans as soon as the fall of 2020.

“The cost of health insurance continues to rise to unaffordable levels, especially in rural Colorado. This new law is a smart approach that will bring competition to the marketplace to help lower the cost of health care,” said Rep. Roberts. “No one should be forced to sacrifice the security of health insurance for themselves and their family based on costs. Everyone deserves choice when they are buying insurance and that is what this law will bring. This bipartisan effort is a Colorado solution that was carefully crafted in a responsible way to create a new, affordable health insurance option in our state.”

Earlier in the day, the Gov. signed SB19-004, a bill sponsored by Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, and Rep. McCluskie. This new law focuses on healthcare cooperatives, which aim to lower healthcare costs by encouraging consumers to negotiate rates on a collective basis directly with providers and offer plans to individuals, businesses, and other groups that are more affordable than what currently exists on the market. The law will strengthen Colorado’s laws to allow coops to incorporate consumer protections like coverage for preexisting conditions, and will allow the State Insurance Commissioner to work with groups seeking to create co-ops so that they can get up and running as soon as possible.

“The formation of health insurance co-ops across our state where Coloradans collectively negotiate rates directly with providers will help drive down the cost of health care,” said Rep. Roberts. “This new law will authorize the formation of these co-ops which could result in plans that are significantly cheaper than those available today.”

“Without any action on the federal level to the health care crisis, Colorado communities are finding creative, innovative approaches to making health care more accessible,” Rep. McCluskie said when the bill passed the House this April. “This bipartisan bill will help provide solutions to the complicated health care challenges hardworking families face everyday.”

Sen. Kerry Donovan and Sen. Rankin are the Senate co-prime sponsors of the law.

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