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  • Writer's pictureMario Nicolais

Any health care “public option” second wave must make some changes

Colorado’s public option for health insurance died an ignominious death last week due to coronavirus complications. Without the ability to engage all stakeholders, most prominently including the providers currently on the front lines combating COVID-19, sponsors chose pull the bill.

Unfortunately, proponents have promised to revive the measure once the pandemic subsides and the state Capitol reopens for regular business. Hopefully they will rethink some of its provisions before they do.

Pitched as an effort to provide access to health care, the public option sounded like a positive step forward. As private options dwindled over the past few years, particularly in rural parts of the state when insurers dropped out of the health exchange markets, vulnerable Coloradans were left with little choice.

At one point, 14 Colorado counties were left with only a single insurer. Effectively the only “option” was to either go purchase that plan or go without.

The public health option sounded like an attractive public-private partnership solution. Private insurance companies would offer and administer plans based on prices negotiated between the state government and care providers.

Unfortunately, the version of “negotiation” employed by the state under the bill would have made Vito Corleone proud.

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