WASHINGTON — In the last two months, many more Coloradans have been told they would lose health coverage than gain it. That stark fact helps explain Democrats’ efforts to allow those whose policies are scheduled to be cancelled as a result of the Affordable Care Act to keep them if only for a little while longer.
Until Thursday morning, more than 212,000 Coloradans would have lost their health-insurance plans than received a plan under the ACA, known as Obamacare.
At least 250,000 Coloradans would have had their individual insurance policies cancelled because either they signed up after the ACA was signed into law, in March 2010, or their plan did not meet the requirements of Obamacare, according to state officials. These individuals would either need to get a health plan through an employer or buy an individual insurance plan on the state insurance exchange.
Nearly 38,000 Coloradans have been assured they will receive insurance coverage because of Obamacare. Under the expanded Medicaid program, 34,168 Coloradans signed up in October to receive the insurance plan for the poor and disabled, according to the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. An extra 3,736 Coloradans signed up and paid for individual health insurance on Colorado’s state insurance exchange from October 1 to November 2, according to Connect for Health Colorado, a non-profit organization in charge of handling the state’s figures.
Colorado’s sign-up figures for private insurance ranked seventh nationally. The state had more people sign up than in larger states such as Florida and Maryland. Only 106,000 signed up for private insurance overall, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
On the same day federal officials released those figures, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) announced he had introduced legislation that allows but does not require state residents to keep their old plans on the individual market through 2015. Udall’s bill echoes former President Bill Clinton’s remark on Tuesday that Obama should honor his pledge that those with health insurance would be able to keep it.
“I share the concern that some health insurance companies are choosing to cancel thousands of Coloradans’ plans. That’s why my common-sense bill will allow Coloradans the option to keep their current coverage if they want or to purchase new plans through Connect for Health Colorado marketplace that may better meet their health-care needs,” Udall said.
On Thursday, President Obama followed the lead of Clinton or Udall. Acknowledging his administration had “fumbled the rollout of this health-care law,” Obama said Americans whose policies would be cancelled as a result of the ACA can keep them through 2014.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) told reporters Thursday afternoon he supported Obama’s administrative fix. “This was a useful decision by the president,” he said walking with Guy Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The number of Americans who will keep their coverage and sign up for insurance on the individual market and the expanded Medicaid program is a major question. It will determine popular support for the landmark law. The more Americans who sign up, the lower health insurance prices will be; the fewer Americans who sign up, the higher prices will be.
Obama administration officials expected more than half a million would sign up in October. Some liberals have said while the 106,000 figure is low, the law requires Americans not only to sign up but also cut a check for health insurance.
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) rejected that argument as dubious. “If (liberals) are so sure on the low end of the numbers, why were their predictions so much higher,?” he said in an interview Thursday.