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Bill Aims to Keep Colorado Reinsurance Program Solvent, Premiums Down

Senate Bill 215, which aims to expand coverage for frontline workers, has passed the Coloardo Legislature's Senate Finance Committee and now advances to Appropriations. (Pixabay)
Senate Bill 215, which aims to expand coverage for frontline workers, has passed the Coloardo Legislature's Senate Finance Committee and now advances to Appropriations. (Pixabay)
June 8, 2020

DENVER -- Colorado lawmakers are considering a measure that would shore up the state's reinsurance program and expand access to more affordable health insurance for thousands of Coloradans who are not able to get assistance under the Affordable Care Act.

Karla Gonzales Garcia, policy director for the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), says the COVID-19 health emergency has made it clear how each individual's health depends upon his or her neighbor's ability to access needed health care.

"Everyone deserves access to health care," Garcia states. "When we talk about how we build healthy communities, we have to come with a framework that everyone should have access to affordable, quality health care."

Senate Bill 215 would continue a federal fee on insurance carriers, which benefited from expanded coverage under the ACA, set to expire this year. For-profit carriers still would pay 2.5% of premiums, with nonprofits paying 1%.

Some members of the business community warn that the measure could hurt small businesses if insurance companies pass the fee along in raised premiums.

Garcia contends that small businesses will benefit from SB 215 because it will help them compete with larger corporations if their workers can access affordable health coverage.

She says the proposal will also help maintain coverage for thousands of Coloradans who have lost their employer-based insurance during the economic fallout of the pandemic, and expand coverage for frontline workers most at risk.

"How is it possible that, in the richest country in the world, that we do not have a system that makes sure that those in low-wage jobs have health benefits?" Garcia raises. "And unfortunately, most of them are people of color."

Garcia says some 250,000 individuals and families who purchase their health insurance on the individual market stand to benefit if SB 215 becomes law, because it will help preserve the state's reinsurance program.

In its first year, the program resulted in a 20% drop in premiums on the individual market, and some rural parts of the state saw a 35% decrease.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO