Colorado Rising Action - Public Option Failure To Launch
April 4, 2019

Public Option Failure To Launch

A bill aimed at testing a public option health insurance plan in Colorado has hit a significant roadblock…reality. One of the bill sponsors, Sen. Donovan pulled the pilot program after “some of the smartest people in the state” couldn’t make the numbers work — the program would have been too costly. The bill was amended on the floor of the Senate today, dropping the public option pilot program.

The following is a statement from Lindsey Singer:

“A public option brings the government even more intimately involved in our health care decisions, and threatens to run out the few existing private insurance options from underserved areas. Fiscal experts in the Legislature came to the same conclusion –  Coloradans who can least afford high costs plans would still be paying out the ear and would be faced with even fewer options for their care.”

The failure of the pilot program could be a significant setback to HB 19-004, which instructs state regulators to draw up plans for a potential public option plan.

Information released by Legislative Council Staff on SB 19-004:

Table outlining potential monthly premium rates for pilot program participants…Rates shown in Table 2 reflect preliminary FY 2019-20 state employee premium rates, plus $522.92 per month, which represents an estimated $627,500 increase in provider premium costs for the pilot program, divided by 100 participants and again by 12 for the monthly rate.

Costs identified in this fiscal note are specific to a short-term and temporary pilot program involving 100 individuals. It is assumed that leveraging the state group benefit health plans on a long-term basis for a larger population would likely cause increased premiums for state employees and/or future participants. These costs are outside the scope of the bill and have not been addressed.

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