public option

Sponsors of legislation to create a public option insurance plan are, from left, Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail, Rep. Dylan Roberts of Avon and Rep. Chris Kennedy of Lakewood at a press conference at the state Capitol on March 5, 2020.

The long wait to argue over whether Colorado should get in the health insurance business officially ends Thursday at 11:15 a.m. when Democratic legislators are expected to announce their plans aimed at reducing the price of premiums.

A Zoom call has been scheduled with the bill's sponsors, Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail with Reps. Dylan Roberts of Avon and Iman Jodeh of Aurora. The link is available by clicking here.

The legislation, which is expected to be one of the session's most significant bills, is a key part of Gov. Jared Polis' promise to save Coloradans money on their healthcare.

The state would require insurers to carry the policy on the individual at below-market rates, which is expected to be supported by Medicare-based price caps and other controls.

In some Colorado counties, there is little or no competition between insurers. The public option would force health insurers to compete, lowering the price across the board.

The announcement comes a little more than a year after a similar bill was introduced, passed one committee hearing then was shelved as lawmakers dealt with the public health and economic crises.

Reaction to Colorado Health Care Option draft bill: Industry groups hate it, consumer health advocates love it

A draft of the bill, first reported by Colorado Politics two weeks ago, gives insurers two years to reduce premiums by 20% for the individual group market, before the state would press ahead with a state policy to reduce costs.

Skeptics, including the Denver-based Common Sense Institute, point to the experience of Washington, which adopted the first and only state-level public option in May 2019 and has not seen the lower prices advocates promised.

The individual and small group market make up about 15% of all insured people in Colorado.

Common Sense report: Colorado premiums beat Washington without a public option
Common Sense report measures cost of proposed Colorado insurance options
INSIGHTS | Health care price caps are a problem that can wait
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