Governor signs bill that leads the nation in expanding access to the health insurance marketplace
Denver – With his signature, Gov. Jared Polis helped tens of thousands of Coloradans take a step closer to the quality health care they need by expanding access to more affordable health insurance.
Polis signed Senate Bill 20 – 215 into law, ensuring the continuation of the state’s successful reinsurance program as well as expanding subsidies for tens of thousands of Coloradans who purchase their insurance on the individual marketplace. State lawmakers approved the plan during their recent legislative session and Polis signed that plan into law.
“To say that this is a huge step forward for Colorado would be an understatement. Literally hundreds of thousands of people across the entire state will benefit,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “Now more than ever, we all understand the health of all of us depends on the health of each one of us. Helping more Coloradans get access to quality health care isn’t just the right and moral thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.”
The law continues a federal fee on insurance carriers set to expire this year and reinvests that fee – with no cost to the state budget – in three ways:
1. Continue Colorado’s successful reinsurance program, which lowered premiums for those purchasing on the individual market by 20 percent in its first year.
2. Make insurance more affordable for individual-market consumers who don’t benefit from reinsurance, namely lower income Coloradans that receive federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
3. Create affordable health insurance options for people left out of the Affordable Care Act, including individuals in the “family glitch” and those who lack proper documentation.
“This is a monumental piece of legislation for Colorado and the nation,” said Healthier Colorado executive director Jake Williams. “The pandemic propelled us to create innovative solutions to healthcare affordability and ensure that people who have suffered the most from the economic downturn are not left holding the bill. We are not only the first state in the nation to provide a path forward for people without proper documentation to secure private health insurance so they can seek the care they need and deserve, but we found a way to support hardworking families by fixing a common barrier to care known as the family glitch. When Coloradans are healthy, so is our economy.”
Specifically, the new law will help all Coloradans by stabilizing the health insurance market. Also helped will be the 250,000 individuals and families who purchase their health insurance on the individual market through the continuation of the state’s reinsurance program. This bill will provide increased purchasing power for tens of thousands of Coloradans who receive financial assistance to help with the cost of their insurance coverage, but for whom coverage remains expensive and often carries high deductibles. In addition, Colorado is one of the first states to further expand financial assistance and coverage to thousands of Coloradans who have been left out of the Affordable Care Act including people in the “family glitch,” which ties what is considered affordable employer coverage to the cost of the employee, rather than factoring in the much higher cost of covering the entire family. Finally, Coloradans who lack proper documentation will also be helped.
“Given the tough budget situation created by COVID-19 and our restrictive and unfair tax policy this kind of bipartisan health care expansion is nothing short of amazing. The ability to take an existing fee already paid by the insurance industry and reinvest it where it will do the most good for the largest number of Coloradans is a powerful demonstration of Colorado’s commitment to the health of its residents,” said Erin Miller, Vice President of Health Initiatives at the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “With this bill, Colorado continues to lead the nation in implementing creative health insurance reforms to make coverage more affordable and accessible. The three-legged policy stool created by this policy held together a strong and diverse group of advocates and ensured this new law will benefit kids and families in all parts of our state, including those who have historically and repeatedly been left behind by our policies.”
Healthier Colorado is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to raising the voices of Coloradans in the public policy process to improve the health of our state’s residents. We believe that every Coloradan should have a fair chance at living a healthy life.
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that represents 40+ Colorado health organizations with more than 500,000 health care consumers advocating for equitable access to high-quality, affordable health care. In 2018, CCHI received the “Get Wise” Consumer Protection award from the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).
The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We advocate for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child wellbeing in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child wellbeing and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit www.coloradokids.org.