MEDIA RELEASE
Wed. March 11, 2020
Contact: Adam Fox, 303-563-9108, [email protected]
Kyle Piccola, 720-289-7371, [email protected]
Katie Reinisch, 303-653-1009, [email protected]com

Consumers tell their stories at first hearing on Colorado Affordable Health Care Option

DENVER, CO – Today, healthcare consumers and advocates from the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and Healthier Colorado testify in front of the House Health & Insurance Committee, the first legislative hearing on the new Colorado Affordable Health Care Option proposal. House Bill 1349 is an innovative new policy that can create more affordable health insurance, ensure Coloradans in rural areas have more than one insurance provider to choose from, and will pay all hospitals a fair rate.

Colorado hospitals are making billions of dollars in profit every year. By controlling outrageous hospital charges and holding insurers to higher standards, the Colorado Option will reduce costs to consumers. The Colorado Option will compete in the individual insurance market and will provide another plan that consumers can choose.

The bill uses existing state infrastructure to lower costs and continue to offer coverage through private insurance companies. Individuals would still pay premiums to an insurance company but at a lower cost. This is a hybrid model that works within the existing health insurance structure and lowers costs without placing risk on the state to pay for it.

Healthcare consumer advocates are pushing back on the “sky is falling” narrative funded by the massive health care industry, saying that hospitals care more about their profits than their patients.

“Despite the scare tactics of the healthcare industry, a public option will drive down costs and ensure that Coloradans in rural areas have more than one insurance company to choose from while holding the health care industry accountable,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “Hospitals and carriers are valued partners but Coloradans need them to step up, be a part of the solution, and value patients over excessive profits.”

“Colorado hospitals have the second-highest profits in the country, and those obscene profits are coming out of patients like me–and I’m mad about it,” said Laura Packard, a stage 4 cancer survivor. “I was shocked when I received the first bill, after visiting my new oncologist at UC Anschutz for a simple check-up and blood work. This visit was billed at $7,554.21. My portion after insurance was $1,817.45. We need somebody to keep hospitals and insurers honest because these costs are unsustainable for people like me. We need more competition to help bring costs down, so other people are not priced out of having insurance and getting the care they need.”

“Ensuring our hospital is successful and able to provide health services to the residents of Gunnison County is of critical importance to me,” said Gunnison County Commissioner John Messner. “After initially hearing about the Colorado Option I was both excited about the opportunity to see reduced rates for my constituents but also concerned about the potential impacts it could have on our hospital. The bill sponsors heard my concerns and developed protections and pricing escalators to support independent, critical access hospitals. I am in support of the coverage for my constituents and I am in support of the Colorado Option.”

“Coloradans want more affordable healthcare options, and the Colorado Option would give them one,” said Jake Williams, executive director of Healthier Colorado. “Business as usual benefits the bottom lines of big players in the healthcare industry, but it squeezes the finances of thousands of Colorado families, driving too many to forego needed care and coverage. It’s time to put the needs of Coloradans first, especially those living in Colorado’s rural and mountain communities where costs are so high, while maintaining a competitive market.”

The Colorado Option sets reasonable reimbursement rates based on a hospital’s needs, makes insurance carriers spend more of Coloradans’ premium dollars on actual care, and ensures prescription drug rebates actually benefit consumers–all of which will reduce the premiums consumers pay by up to 20 percent.

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