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More health insurance plans proposed as lawmakers get desperate for solutions

Author: Tom Ramstack - September 14, 2017 - Updated: September 14, 2017

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Nurses at Lincoln Community Hospital in Hugo, Colo. attend to patients and administrative duties at the rural hospital on the Eastern Plains. (Peter Marcus/Colorado Politics)

 

Republicans and Democrats in Congress proposed more revisions to the nation’s health insurance this week while Colorado politicians struggled with the same concerns over skyrocketing premiums that are fueling the national controversy.

Governor John Hickenlooper continued to argue for a bipartisan plan while a gubernatorial candidate who wants his job recommended a Medicare-for-everyone option.

Hickenlooper (D) spoke to a Fort Collins business group this week, where he described health insurance as a factor weighing on other economic priorities.

He developed an alternative to the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act that he says could provide health insurance to a large number of underserved persons but lower premiums.

He announced the plan last week with co-developer Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich as the Colorado Division of Insurance said it has approved an average health insurance premium for next year of nearly 27 percent.

Meanwhile, Democratic candidate for governor Cary Kennedy unveiled a plan this week that would give all Coloradans an option to purchase insurance through the state’s Medicaid, Health First Colorado or state employee health plan.

The former state treasurer said the plan would encourage the kind of competition that would bring down insurance premiums.

“We can offer more choices, address the rural disparities in access and affordability and lower costs,” Kennedy said in a statement. “That’s why today I am proposing giving everyone in Colorado the ability to buy into our public health insurance plans.”

Kennedy’s plan is similar to a proposal from Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., to extend Medicare and Medicaid benefits to nearly the entire U.S. population.

Although Sanders first announced his plan during his failed run for president last year, he discussed a revised version this week that would make insurance premiums adjustable based on income. Low income persons would pay no premiums while the wealthiest people and corporations would be charged high rates.

The revamped Sanders plan drew criticism from Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner on Thursday.

“The Bernie Sanders socialized medicine plan is not the answer to fix our broken healthcare system,” Gardner said in a statement. “Year after year, Coloradans are forced to reckon with rising insurance premiums and fewer choices and anyone who thinks a government takeover of our healthcare system is the answer is not serious about finding real solutions for the American people.”

He said the current Obamacare system was “a failure in states across the country, including Colorado, and it is not reasonable to think more government is the solution.”

Extending Medicare beyond senior citizens it was designed to protect would leave the retirees with even fewer health insurance resources, Gardner said.

Meanwhile, Republicans continued to propose more health insurance solutions during hearings this week as time runs out in the current congressional session. Insurance companies predict premiums will take another leap upward nationwide next year.

Tom Ramstack


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