As the Colorado Sun reports:
A deep-pocketed nonprofit backed by private insurance companies has launched a barrage of advertising aimed at building public opposition to Colorado Democrats’ attempt to create a public health insurance option.
Partnership for America’s Health Care Future launched a TV ad buy at a cost of nearly $1 million on Monday that will run through early April. The ads are airing in the Denver, Grand Junction and Colorado Springs television markets.
And that’s just the beginning of the group’s full-court press against a bill that still hasn’t been introduced…
Once again, the Colorado General Assembly is set to debate a bill that could create a publicly-administered “Colorado Option” health plan to compete with fabulously profitable private insurance providers and bring down overall costs in the health insurance marketplace. And just as in previous years, the private insurance industry is launching a massive pre-emptive assault against legislation which has not even been introduced. But as Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports, the bill coming together in 2021 could be very different than the previous effort:
Colorado Politics has obtained a copy of the draft bill that could soon become the Colorado Option Health Benefit Plan, and it shows that the 2021 version is drastically different than the version presented in 2020…
The biggest difference in the bill is a provision that the healthcare industry will, at least for the next two years, be responsible for figuring out how to hit a target of a 20% reduction in health insurance premiums for the individual market, which is about 8% of those insured statewide.
Basically, Democrats in the General Assembly have decided to call the insurance industry’s bluff, and give them a chance to bring costs down the way they say they prefer to operate before implementing the much-dreaded “public option” which would compel major cost reductions in order to stay competitive. Rep. Dylan Roberts explains:
“We won’t tell them how to do it; they’ve told us repeatedly over the years that they know healthcare costs are a problem, but that they want to work on it on their own to address it,” he said. [Pols emphasis]
If the industry doesn’t achieve the targeted premium reductions by 2025, the state would then move forward with the public option alternative–now free of the misconception that private industry can effectively police itself out of undue profiteering. Or, maybe the industry will prove that it’s not a misconception, and that given an ambitious goal and the flexibility to meet that goal autonomously private industry can set aside its fundamental motive of profit and triumph in solving one of the nation’s most vexing problems.
If by this point you’re thinking that this bill might represent too generous treatment of an industry whose profit motives can never be scaled back willingly, you’re not alone. But by giving insurers a chance to do what they say they would do if only “given the chance,” a major argument employed by the industry is being taken off the table.
Smart politics in the long run, assuming consumers are willing to be patient.