What They Are Saying: The State Government Option (House Bill 21-1232) Does More Harm Than Good

Apr 28, 2021

DENVER – Following the House Health and Insurance Committee’s decision to advance a so-called ‘new compromise’ version of the state government option bill, lawmakers should listen to the vested stakeholders who continue to voice concerns about the unanswered questions and unknown consequences of this proposal. Instead of pushing forward with an unaffordable new government-controlled health insurance system, lawmakers should listen to the calls to slow down, weigh the facts and work together to build on and improve what’s working in health care. 

Dr. Marilu Orozsco-Peterson, Family Physician:  

The perfect storm of decreasing reimbursements and increasing bureaucracy destroyed my beloved clinic and many other private practices in our area…HB21-1232 will nail the coffin on the preverbal head of medicine today, because no small practice could possibly navigate the red tape and restrictions you place upon it.

Dr. Earl Taylor Abel, Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center:

My wife and I have read this bill and it concerns us. We have read of the proposed lower insurance premiums and have read further that the only mechanism to achieve this is through lowering provider fee schedules. While my wife and I both think access to health care is important, we feel this bill is misguided. Cutting provider reimbursement cannot be the only strategy for reaching this goal.

Is it really the private practice doctor that is a primary cause of increasing healthcare costs? I don’t think so. Will lowering providers fee schedules really improve access to healthcare? I also don’t think so. Regardless with my family situation, had this bill already been passed, it would have prevented us from moving here. And if it passes in the future, it will make us look elsewhere for a long-term home.

Gary Arnold, Business Manager, Denver Pipefitters Local 208:

We asked our plan actuary to review the legislation for possible impacts on our fund. After completing that review, they provided their memo and analysis to all trustees, including myself, and indicated that there would be a chance that our fund would be looking at a million dollars a year in cuts.

I just don’t see it being fair for blue collar, middle class, fitters and plumbers having to foot the bill for an extra million dollars each year. So I do appreciate the efforts, but unfortunately, I’m here to testify in opposition to 1232.

Diane Schwenke, President and CEO, Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce:

For starters, we know all too well that cost shifting is real and this bill does nothing to contain costs.It only caps payments. Price setting by the government is a very real concern by the private sector and leads to the question of what will come next? Price caps on automotive repairs or legal services? 

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. 

Cathy Shull, Executive Director, Pro15: 

Colorado has struggled. Rural Colorado has struggled. Northeastern Plains has struggled. Additional unknown policies and regulations put us back. Even if you get the cost of insurance down through this bill, you could certainly cause a closure of several rural hospitals. And while the cost of insurance might be lower, our access to healthcare has been greatly diminished. Do we think healthcare needs improvement? Yes, we do feel, however, that this bill has too many unknowns, gives too much authority to non-elected officials and will create unintended consequences.

Meagan Fearing, President, Colorado Association of Health Underwriters:

We need to work with the legislation we currently have enforced and stop piling on. With collaborative efforts, we are headed in the right direction and we do not need a new government institute. Now, with these guardrails, we need to leave this to the market and the experts, not the government. 

Joni Inman, Executive Director, Colorado Women’s Alliance: 

We already know that government-run health care results in longer wait times for patients. We already know that in those states where public options have been implemented, like Washington State, premiums are not dropping but in fact are rising…We, at the Colorado Women’s Alliance, are opposed to HB21-1232 and we urge legislators to focus on sensible reform that we know is already working.

Debbie Brown, President, Colorado Business Roundtable:

We’re only starting to understand the impacts of COVID-19 hospital. Finances are heavily strained across the state and they’re projected to lose 4.4 billion in the next 12 months. Putting our most vulnerable hospitals, particularly rural hospitals at risk of closure. We recognize that this is a complex system and we appreciate the lawmakers working on this important issue, but we’re concerned that price setting in the private industry, isn’t the role of government at this time, preserving what works and implementing common sense steps for the future are critical to our future success.

Franklin Gray, Chair, Douglas County Business Alliance: 

Today, hospital systems in Colorado are facing budget shortfalls in the billions of dollars due to the demands of fighting the pandemic. In terms of job losses, healthcare is one of the hardest hit sectors of the state economy…Before the pandemic, the healthcare sector was one of the strongest parts of our state economy. Healthcare systems play an extremely important role in our communities and local economies, too. 

…It will take many years for these critical institutions to achieve financial stability and recovery. Our state government should not be digging a deeper financial hole for these hospitals by cutting their revenues. 

Angel Merlos, The LIBRE Initiative:  

Coloradans want to fix what’s broken in our system. We all do, but we just don’t want to start over.HB21-1232 would take us in the wrong direction toward a government takeover with less choice and control, but more unnecessary harm to patients and providers.