Charles Ashby, The Daily Sentinel
Gov. Jared Polis and several legislators are getting what they wanted when it comes to health care legislation.
While the governor has already signed one into law, a bill calling for more price transparency from hospitals, another measure in on his desk awaiting his pen.
That bill calls for a study to provide some type of alternative option to private insurance, such as a buy-in to the state’s Medicaid program.
As the Colorado Legislature gets through the final week of the 2019 session, which ends Friday, other major bills are working their way to Polis’ desk, not the least of which would offer a reinsurance plan to insurers operating on the state’s individual market, Connect for Health Colorado.
All of this has health care advocates very happy.
“The public wants a public option in health care,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.
“Insurers aren’t doing enough to hold down health care costs and have little incentive to do so as long as they can pass the cost on to consumers,” he added. “A public option will spur competition, drive down costs and create more affordable and accessible insurance offerings.”
Both those measures, HB1004 and HB1268, have bipartisan support, including from several local lawmakers.
While Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, is a main sponsor of the public option study, Rep. Janice Rich, R-Grand Junction, is helping to lead the effort behind the reinsurance bill, which cleared the House on a bipartisan 47-15 vote earlier this month. All local lawmakers — including Catlin; Reps. Matt Soper, R-Delta; Perry Will, R-New Castle; and Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon — voted with Rich for the bill.
The public option bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, also passed with bipartisan support, but not from Rich and Soper, who were among 19 GOP lawmakers who opposed it. Its Senate sponsors also are local: Donovan and Sen. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale.
Another Catlin measure, HB1174, is out of the House and working its way through the Senate.
That bill, which won wide bipartisan support in the House, is aimed at curbing the so-called surprised billing problem. That’s when patients receive bills from providers they had no way of knowing were not in their insurance networks.
The bill requires insurance carriers and medical providers to inform them of out-of-network providers, such as labs they might be using, giving patients the option of being able to ask to use a lab or other referred service that is in their network.
A handful of other measures are still working their way through the Legislature, including measures to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and a bill to study the difference in costs between existing private insurance and single-payer plans.