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'Public Option' healthcare moves to Colorado Senate for final hearing

DENVER - The Colorado General Assembly wraps up in just over a month, and of the five bills that aim to tackle the cost of healthcare -- one is looking to be promising.

House Bill 19-1004 and Senate Bill 19-104, a companion duo, introduce 'public option' healthcare.

So who would it primarily affect? Anyone on the individual market.

"We're really seeing a crisis of costs," said Democratic state Sen. Kerry Donovan, a co-sponsor of both bills.

According to Donovan, the solution is all about implementing public option across the state.

"So when we implement this on a statewide level, it'll help anyone who's on the individual market by providing competition," said Donovan.

Right now, most counties only have one or two options on the individual market. Supporters like Donovan believe having this "other choice" will bring competition to drive costs down. 

But not everyone agrees. 

"It limits quality and limits access," claims Republican state Sen. Paul Lundeen

Lundeen says a state-backed healthcare system won't have the incentive to pay and be as efficient as private insurers.

"It's a disincentive for healthcare providers to participate, which means access is diminished," Lundeen said.

Two valid arguments, so you're probably wondering, how much money could you and your family really save? According to lawmakers, we don't have that answer just yet.

If the bill passes, there will be a study done to discuss how it would be implemented.

But political analyst Josh Dunn is confident it will pass.

"I'm not certain there's going to be one thing that's going to solve the increase in healthcare costs, but it's possible this could do something to put a dent in it," Dunn said.

The bill is set for a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee next week and will have a vote shortly after that. Since it does have bi-partisan support, it's very likely it will pass.

If that happens, how will the state pay for it? According to the bill, Colorado would apply for a federal waiver to use existing revenue to help implement the plan. If all goes well, the state-run plan would be available in the fall of 2020.


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