Colorado public option bill sponsor says the proposal will be reintroduced this year

MM Curator summary

The Colorado public option is back on the table, with perhaps a few changes since we last saw it in March 2020.


The article below has been highlighted and summarized by our research team. It is provided here for member convenience as part of our Curator service.

The Colorado Senate sponsor of last year’s public option health insurance proposal said that she definitely plans to resurrect the idea in the soon-to-convene 2021 legislative session, though she acknowledged that details could be different from the derailed 2020 effort.

Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, seemed to quell speculation that Democrats might be moving on from the idea when she said during the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce legislative preview event Tuesday that she and sponsoring Rep. Dylan Roberts, R-Avon, are “in the initial phases” of drafting a new bill. And while Donovan, the Senate president pro tempore, didn’t offer details as to how this new proposal would be shaped, she did say that it “will look different than last year’s bill.”

The 2020 proposal would have required any insurer offering private plans within a county also to offer a public option plan that kept premiums below market rates by reimbursing health care providers at 155% of Medicaid rates — a level much lower than many now charge. Colorado Hospital Association leaders opposed the bill, saying that it would weaken the state health care system by taking money out of it, and business leaders were concerned that it would shift the cost of care to people in private employer-provided plans.

That bill received approval from its first legislative committee the week before the state declared the coronavirus pandemic to be a public health emergency, and it was shelved after the Legislature adjourned for more than two months, as officials sought to concentrate on limited Covid-focused bills upon their return. After the 2020 session, several Democratic leaders implied that they would need to rethink whether it was part of future reform efforts, but Donovan and House Speaker Alec Garnett both seemed to say Tuesday that it will be part of a renewed focus on ways to lower health care costs for more Coloradans.

Sen. Kerry Donovan, Rep. Dylan Roberts and Rep. Chris Kennedy present the Colorado Option bill in 2020.

Jensen Werley

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