There has been a great deal of discussion concerning the Public Option health care bill currently under consideration at the Colorado State Legislature. HB21-1232: Standardized Health Benefit Plan Colorado Option requires the commissioner of insurance to establish a single, standardized health benefit plan and encourages private insurance companies to offer the plan. It establishes a new authority for the purpose of operating a health plan and authorizes the commissioner to apply for federal funding to finance the authority. It sets arbitrary premium reduction targets for private health insurance to meet in 2023 and 2024 and then empowers the commissioner of insurance to launch the new government-run public option plan, if it is determined that the private companies fail to meet the premium reduction targets.
The Longmont Chamber of Commerce is opposed to this measure as written.
Health care is both critically important and far too expensive. It is a problem that Colorado businesses and individual Coloradans struggle with, and one that we’re committed to helping solve.
However, we feel that House Bill 1232, a proposal to create a new government-run health plan, is the wrong approach. Full of big and risky ideas, but short on critically important details, the measure puts our health care and our economy at risk.
Colorado’s approach of addressing the true cost drivers of health care through private market innovation and public-private partnerships is the better approach — and it is already working.
Thanks to growth in private-sector initiatives, including investments in telehealth and other technologies, as well as value-based payment arrangements between health care providers and insurers, the industry is operating more efficiently and reducing the cost of care, providing meaningful and sustainable benefits to consumers.
In addition, the state’s reinsurance program, a public-private partnership just recently enacted, is delivering significant savings for Coloradans buying individual health insurance, particularly in rural and underserved communities. Coloradans purchasing health insurance on the individual market saved nearly 21% on premiums, and the Western Slope and southwest Colorado premiums were reduced nearly 38%.
Our primary concerns are focused around five key areas. First, it sets arbitrary and unreasonable timelines and premium reduction goals. Second, it transfers a significant amount of power and authority to an appointed member of the executive branch without appropriate legislative oversight. It puts the state budget, businesses and/or taxpayers at risk by building a new government bureaucracy without accounting for the likely costs or plan for financing such an entity. It creates a different set of rules for the government-run health plan to operate by. And lastly, it lumps the small group market in with the individual market.
We are concerned that if implemented, in its current form, it will increase health care costs for the majority of Coloradans. It will result in less competition and consumer choice. It will reduce access to care throughout the state. There is the potential for significant cost burden to Colorado’s budget, businesses and/or taxpayers.
We believe that Colorado is on the right track of pursuing market-based innovation and public-private partnership solutions. We also believe that the challenging realities of COVID-19 recovery are being compounded in Colorado by implementation of a long list of state policies adopted in recent years that will increase the cost of doing business here. Lastly, this is an untested program. It’s simply too risky for Colorado at this time.
This is an important issue. We welcome conversations and ideas. We will continue to work with our members, businesses and elected leadership to help identify workable solutions moving forward. However, we do not support this effort as currently written.
Scott Cook is CEO of the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce.
This content was originally published here.