March 3rd, 2009 – Colorado Govenor Bill Ritter is proposing a new plan that would provide health coverage to as many as 100,000 Coloradans without insurance. The Colorado Healthcare Affordability Act (House Bill 1293) would collect $600 million for the program through fees imposed on hospitals and then $600 million in additonal matching money from the federal government.
The $1.2 billion would then be used to fund Medicaid and the Colorado Indigent Care Program. Money from the Colorado Healthcare Affordability Act would also be used to expand Colorado’s Children’s Health Plan Plus (CHP+) program for chidlren and pregnant women to people that earn up to 250% of the federal poverty level.
The general idea is that if treatment for uninsured Coloradans is paid for through this program then that would reduce uncompensated charges to hospitals. Those uncompensated charges are often passed on to insurance companies and then ultimately to the people and businesses that pay health insurance premiums. One might argue that this bill would not only benefit the 100,000 new enrollees in this program, but it can also help to reduce costs to health insurance premium paying consumers and businesses across Colorado.
What the final bill will look like remains to be seen. Although the bill enjoys some industry support from some hospitals and insurance companies it will be interesting to see what fingerprints Colorado legislators leave on the bill. It would be suprising if the bill did not at least capitalize on getting matching federal dollars for CHP+ and Medicaid.
What are your thoughts about the Colorado Healthcare Affordability Act?