Connect for Health Colorado thwarted a thorough state audit, but some answers may be forthcoming if a renewed effort for an audit is authorized. In addition, the Senate passed a measure Friday that would form a commission to diagnose why so-called affordable health care is a myth.
Senate Bill 187 passed on a 23-12 vote with Republican Sens. Larry Crowder of Alamosa, Bernie Herpin of Colorado Springs, Steve King of Grand Junction, George Rivera of Pueblo and Ellen Roberts of Durango voting ‘yes’ with the Democratic lawmakers.
“It’s very apparent to me, and it’s not a surprise to me, that the costs of health care have not gone down,” said Roberts, who cosponsored SB 187 with Sen. Irene Aguilar (D-Denver).
The cost “is unsustainable,” said Roberts, citing the financial burdens inflicted on individuals and families, large and small businesses and the state and federal governments.
Funding a $500,000 study won’t solve the problems of Obamacare and the state exchange, said Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud).
The commission study is akin to “rearranging the deck chairs on a ship that is sinking,” said Lundberg.
“Senate Bill 187 kind of reminds me of Senate Bill 200 back in 2011” that created the state exchange, Lundberg said. “We were assured this will put it in our control so we can find those solutions that are Colorado specific.”
“This is not affordable health care,” Lundberg said. “People cannot afford to go to the doctor, let alone to the hospital. You can’t afford to get sick.”
Not only did the cost of premiums increase, Lundberg noted that the out-of-pocket expenditures for policyholders climbed as high as $10,000 because of higher insurance deductibles over the past year.
SB 187 would allocate $500,000 to establish the Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care comprised of 12 voting members appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper and leadership in the House and Senate, along with five nonvoting members from state governmental agencies.
The commission would study health care costs and make recommendations to resolve the problems before July 1, 2017. The legislature previously created “The Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform” charged with a similar mission to lower medical care and coverage costs in 2006.
If the bill is passed by the House and signed into law, Roberts said it doesn’t promise to resolve every problem, but it’s a start.
“I am not satisfied personally to just say repeal Obamacare, as much as I don’t like it,” said Roberts, who asked how it would be replaced. “That is the question.”
Aguilar and three fellow Democrats on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee killed a bill in March to authorize a thorough audit of Connect for Health Colorado exchange.
However, earlier this month Lundberg gained bipartisan support on the Senate floor to successfully amend the Long Bill to include the audit in the state’s budget – despite Aguilar’s protests.