John Frank and John Ingold of the Denver Post report on continued posturing over Senate Bill 17-003, the all-but-doomed measure from Republicans to repeal the Connect For Health Colorado insurance marketplace:
The leaders at Colorado’s health insurance exchange are working to keep alive the online marketplace, even if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, while Republican state lawmakers want to shut it down now.
The contradictory approaches put Connect for Health Colorado, the state-based exchange where 175,000 residents purchased insurance in 2016, at the center of a debate that is only amplified by the efforts in Washington to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
The national and state efforts, though separate, are fueling uncertainty in Colorado about the future of health care coverage and crystallizing the political divide after the election of President Donald Trump…
The bill’s primary sponsor is freshman Sen. Jim “No Jokes Please” Smallwood, a health insurance broker–whose profession outside the Capitol presents obvious questions about his motives for running this legislation.
The freshman Republican lawmaker from Parker is adamant that his bill is not a political statement or “a vendetta against President Obama.” Instead, he argues, the measure is designed to save the state money by eliminating a tax break for insurance companies and preventing future fees on health care plans…
“There appear to be some obvious failures systemically within the gut of our state-based exchange, and my thought was, would the same thing happen if we were on healthcare.gov?” Smallwood said in a recent interview. [Pols emphasis]
And this, folks, is where the efforts of national and state Republican lawmakers come into fundamental conflict. Colorado Republicans want to shut down our insurance marketplace in favor of the federal system, but Washington D.C. Republicans want to shut down the federal system. Each one is using the other as their excuse–Smallwood says the feds will do it better, and the GOP Congress says the states will do it better.
Obviously, only one of them can be right! And it would be a real, you know, problem if national and local Republicans were to both get their way, wouldn’t it? Once you understand that they can’t both have their way, it becomes clear that one of these two legislative pushes is a huge mistake. For a party that had six years to figure out what to do when they finally got the chance to repeal the bête noire of Obamacare, you’d think they’d have a consistent plan from the federal to the state level.
Either nobody has thought this through, or nobody cares–and neither is a good way to make literal life-and-death policy.