Fact Check-Up: Correcting Common Claims About The Colorado State Government Option

Apr 22, 2021

DENVER – Following the House Health and Insurance Committee hearing regarding House Bill 21-1232, which would create a new state government-controlled health insurance system, the bill’s supporters have continued to make misleading claims that obscure the true costs and consequences of this one-size-fits-all proposal, also known as the state government option. Through an abundance of analyses and experts correcting these claims, it’s clear the state government option could increase costs for Coloradans, while threatening patients’ access to quality health care, services, and coverage choices.

RHETORIC: Many Coloradans Today Have Limited Health Coverage Options.

REALITY: 83 Percent Of Colorado Counties Have Two Or More Health Coverage Options On The Individual Health Insurance Marketplace.

  • “Consumers Will See More Choice…As The Number Of Counties With Only One Carrier Offering Plans On The Individual Insurance Market Is Dropping To 10, Down From 22.”(“Colorado Individual Health Insurance Rates Drop For Second Year In A Row,” Denver Business Journal, 10/9/20)
  • “For 2021, The Reinsurance Program Will Save Consumers Across Colorado An Average Of 20.8 Percent Over What Premiums Would Have Been Without The Program. On The Western Slope And Southwest Colorado, The Program Will Save Coloradans Nearly 38 Percent.” (“2021 Individual Health Premiums Decreasing By 1.4 Percent Over 2020 Premiums,” Colorado Division of Insurance, 10/8/20)

RHETORIC: The State Government Option Would Create More Stability For Rural Hospitals and Providers.

REALITY: The State Government Option Would Threaten Access to Care in Rural Communities.

  • Rural Hospitals Would Be Disproportionately Negatively Impacted, And Face Reduction In Revenue Double What Urban Hospitals Would Face On A Percentage Basis.” (“The Colorado Option Plan: Modeling the Impacts of Government Price Controls in Health Care,” Common Sense Institute, May 2020)
  • 25 Percent Of Rural Hospitals Nationwide Are At A High Risk Of Closing Unless Their Financial Situations Improve. Of These Hospitals, 82 Percent Are Considered Highly Essential To Their Communities.” (“2020 Rural Hospital Sustainability Index,” Guidehouse, 4/8/20)
  • Rural Hospital Closures Now Stand At 135, And Our Research Indicates That Another 453 Are Vulnerable To Closure. The Rapid Spread Of COVID-19 In Rural Communities Has Further Destabilized The Ability Of Rural Hospitals To Meet The Needs Of Their Communities.” (“The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Stability of the Rural Health Safety Net,” The Chartis Center for Rural Health, 2/5/21)
  • 23 Rural Hospitals Could Be At Increased Risk Of Closure Under The State Government Option.” (“Colorado’s Government Option: Assessing the Impact of Reforms on Access to Health Care,” FTI Consulting, 1/6/20)

RHETORIC: Failure To Accept The ‘Colorado Option’ Is A Violation Of Professional Conduct And Grounds for Disciplinary Action And Providers Could Be Sanctioned Or Have Their Licenses Taken Away. 

REALITY: The State Government Option Would Significantly Expand The Role Of The State Government in Health Care And It Gives State Politicians Greater Control Over Your Health Care. 

  • “The Threat Of Revoking Professional Licenses By The State For Not Accepting Patients On The Public Option Plan Sets A New Precedent On Medical Providers And May Even Be Illegal. Other Government Health Care Programs (i.e., Medicare And Medicaid) Do Not Impose This Requirement To Take Patients On Doctors Or Hospitals.” (Diane Schwenke, President and CEO Of The Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, House Health And Insurance Committee Hearing, 4/9/21)
  • “Revoking A Physician’s License Is A Serious Step… It Should Be Based Solely On Ensuring Quality Health Care. That’s Why We Licensed Physicians. And That’s Why We Credential Physicians Is To Make Sure That We’re Providing Quality Health Care. Physicians Who Have Had Their License Revoked Will Find It Very Difficult To Work Again, Either In Colorado Or In Any State. This Bill [HB21-1232] Proposes To Threaten A Provider’s License, Not Around The Quality Of The Care That They Provide, But On A Final Financial Decision That We May Be Forced To Make… I Do Warn You That We Should Really Keep Licensing To Drive In Quality.” (Dr. Amit Agrawal, House Health And Insurance Committee Hearing, 4/9/21)