As legislative sessions go, the one just concluded in May was jam packed and ended with some significant new bipartisan laws aimed at reducing the cost of healthcare and health insurance premiums.

While the Democrats were in control of the House, Senate and governor’s office, they found support from Republicans, mostly from rural districts, who shared the goal of reducing consumer costs in health care. The Colorado Health Institute summarized the session with this headline, “2019 will be remembered as the year Colorado’s legislature finally addressed high health care prices.”

The following four bills will likely have the largest impact on reducing costs while expanding access to health insurance coverage for Coloradans:

House Bill 1004: Proposal for Affordable Health Coverage Option. This law requires the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (HCPF) and the Division of Insurance (DOI) to develop and submit a proposal to the General Assembly by Nov. 15, 2019 concerning the design, costs, benefits, and implementation of a state option for health care coverage. Rural residents, and others not able to attend the stakeholder meetings in person, can call in and chat questions. Here’s a link to stay up to date on this important topic: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/hcpf/proposal-affordable-health-coverage-option

House Bill 1168: State Innovation Waiver Reinsurance Program. The aim of this law is to reduce premiums on the individual market by covering the highest-cost claims for insurers. The bill will be funded from a fee on hospitals, existing taxes on insurance policies, and support from the General Fund. Colorado’s application to the federal government for approval is complete. A final decision from the feds is expected by early fall. If approved, analysts say reinsurance could lower individual market premiums by 21% statewide in 2020. Rural and mountain residents could see greater reductions.

House Bill 1176: Healthcare Cost Savings Act of 2019. This bill creates a task force charged with hiring an analyst who will determine the fiscal costs and other impacts of the following healthcare financing systems:

• The current healthcare financing system, in which residents receive healthcare coverage from private and public insurance carriers or are uninsured;

• A multi-payer universal healthcare financing system, in which competing insurance carriers or health maintenance organizations receive payments from a public financing authority; and

• A publicly financed and privately delivered universal healthcare system that directly compensates providers

Connect for Health Colorado is included as a member of this task force.

And on the state Senate side:

Senate Bill 004: Address High-Cost Health Insurance. This bill modernizes laws authorizing healthcare cooperatives in the state to incorporate consumer protections, such as coverage for preexisting conditions, and to encourage consumers to help control healthcare costs by negotiating rates on a collective basis directly with providers. Summit County’s Peak Health Alliance will do just that beginning in 2020. If this model succeeds, it could be replicated in other high-cost parts of the state.

Want to do a deeper dive into healthcare reform? To stay up on the fast-paced world of healthcare reform in Colorado, consider following our CEO Kevin Patterson’s weekly blog http://connectforhealthco.com/about-us/our-news/ You can follow us on:

• Facebook - @connectforhealthco

• Twitter - @C4HCO

• Instagram - @c4hco

It is an exciting time in Colorado as our leaders work hard on laws to reduce the cost of healthcare.

Linda Gann is the Senior Outreach Manager, Western Slope Region for Connect for Health Colorado.

Connect for Health Colorado is a public, non-profit entity established by the Colorado General Assembly in 2011 to create a health insurance Marketplace. Since 2013, we’ve been helping individuals, families and small employers compare plans, apply for financial help and buy health insurance. As Colorado’s official health insurance marketplace, we are the only place to apply for financial help to lower the monthly cost of premiums. For more information: http://www.ConnectforHealthCO.com

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