ICYMI: “A ‘Public Option’ Is A Tough Pill To Swallow For Small Business”

Apr 5, 2021

DENVER – In a recent opinion piece in the Sentinel ColoradoKevin Hougen, president and CEO of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, warns against “government-provided solutions” such as HB21-1232to create a Colorado state government option.

Hougen writes, “A recent health care proposal touted by state lawmakers for a ‘Colorado Health Insurance Option’ is likely to create less access to quality care, put an unsustainable strain on our health care system, and, ultimately, it could push many into one-size-fits-all plans that ignores their unique needs.”

He highlights the shortcomings of a similar approach to a government-controlled health insurance system in the state of Washington, stating, “The state of Washington is experiencing the repercussions of their so-called ‘public option’ program after reporting premiums increases for 2021 – nearly 30 percent more expensive than the plans available through the ACA’s 2020 marketplace.”

Hougen continues, “Washington’s first-in-the-nation experiment exposes government health insurance programs back-fire by causing significant disruption in access across the health care system, increased in premiums for families and threatens the value of employer-sponsored insurance. If this tells us anything, Colorado will likely have the same fate.”

He adds, “The public option proposal devised by state lawmakers creates a false narrative.”

Hougen argues that “House Bill 21-1232 does not meet the health care industry halfway.” Instead, he suggests the opposite: “House Bill 21-1232 enforces unattainable cost-cutting measures to set up the health care industry to fail at a time of recovery following the pandemic.”

Hougen points to a lack of economic analysis for the small group market, writing, “That offers little reassurance to employers, whose hiring and investment decisions have to assume the likely outcome that prices will go up or accept government-run plans—as state officials have suggested.” He also adds, “Health care affordability should not come at the expense of most residents’ care and coverage. It should not come at the expense of business owners, who strive to ensure employees have access to high-quality plans that are tailored to their needs.”

Hougen continues, “Colorado businesses have gone through enough uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic and experimenting with an unproven health care proposal with more overburdensome regulations is the last thing businesses need to consider.”

He cautions that “Now is not the time for policy makers to pursue an untested proposal that could disrupt Colorado’s entire health care system, especially given the immense hardships individuals and businesses across the state are facing due to the economic downturn that has followed the pandemic.”

Hougen concludes, “we should explore real solutions that bring all sides of the industry to the table to address the factors causing health care costs to rise and improve what’s working in health care.”

  • To read Kevin Hougen’s full opinion piece published by the Sentinel ColoradoCLICK HERE.