by Matt Valeta, Health Policy Fellow
Getting the care you need, when you need it, isn’t too much to ask. Colorado’s legislators and Governor Hickenlooper really took this idea to heart this year as they helped move toward barrier-free access to quality and affordable health care for all Coloradans.
One of the biggest healthcare issues the Colorado General Assembly faced this year was the creation of the New Medicaid program. On election night, Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino promised that Colorado would expand Medicaid eligibility to 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (a salary of about $15,000 a year for an individual or $30,000 a year for a family of four) in keeping with the Affordable Care Act. Governor Hickenlooper announced his support for the expansion in January, and the bill passed at the end of April. Colorado’s Medicaid program was also expanded to include an adult dental benefit by SB13-242. CCHI is extremely excited that thanks to the expansion, 160,000 Coloradans will have better access to the healthcare they need.
CCHI’s own top priority of the 2013 General Assembly was HB13-1290, Modernize Stop-loss Health Insurance. CCHI worked with sponsors Beth McCann and Irene Aguilar to help protect the small group health insurance market in Colorado. By raising the attachment point for businesses purchasing stop-loss insurance, this bill helps ensure that small businesses are not inappropriately self-insuring instead of purchasing insurance in the small group market. This will protect the small group market by ensuring that businesses do not move from self-insuring to the small group market only when they are sick. HB13-1290 will also collect data about stop-loss policies in Colorado.
Colorado is well on its way to establishing its new health care marketplace (exchange) Connect for Health Colorado. The General Assembly passed HB13-1245 to ensure that Connect for Health Colorado will have additional funding to help the marketplace get up and running. Open enrollment begins in October of this year, and thousands of Coloradans will be able to compare health plans and use tax credits to help afford their insurance premiums.
Finally, Colorado took a huge step forward in implementing Obamacare with the passage of HB13-1266 ‘Health Insurance Alignment Federal Law.’ While Colorado is one of the leader states in implementing health care reform, many of Obamacare’s consumer protections were not officially a part of Colorado law. With the passage of this bill, Colorado now bans discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and allows young adults to stay on their parent’s plans up to age 26, among many other benefits.
These great accomplishments are just a few of the health care related bills that passed this year. Colorado has moved full steam ahead in implementing Obamacare to help thousands of Coloradans gain access to coverage. This session has shown that our voices matter when it comes to decisions about health care. Cheers to a great 2013 session. Now it’s time to get Coloradans enrolled!