Lowering Health Care Costs on the Western Slope

(March 24) – A bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, to create a study on how a single insurance rating area in Colorado could help lower health care costs passed the House Health, Insurance & Environment Committee this afternoon.
In 2016, premiums in the mountain area increased an average of 25.8 percent, while the average increase across the state was much lower at 9.8 percent. Currently, Colorado has nine geographic rating areas, and combining these into one statewide area could even out these discrepancies.
“Health care costs in our mountain communities are rising faster than elsewhere in the state,” said Rep. Hamner, who shares prime sponsorship of the bill with Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale. “I’m so frustrated that our current system is not working for my constituents. But I’m optimistic that this study will come up with solutions for the Western Slope before the end of the year.”
HB16-1336 requires the Department of Regulatory Agencies to conduct a study to determine the impacts of establishing a single geographic area for premium rates for health insurance plans in Colorado. The study has a quick turnaround with the deadline of Aug. 1 and will make recommendations to the General Assembly for action before year’s end.
Many individuals from the impacted mountain region traveled all the way to Denver to testify in support of the bill and shared the impacts of such high premiums on their families.
Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, and Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, are also sponsors of the bill.
The 12-1 vote sends the bill to the House floor for second reading.

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