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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 3, 20173min4180

A tax on insurers based on their size, a provision of the Affordable Care Act, is set to take effect Jan. 1, but the Colorado Business Roundtable and the Colorado Farm Bureau want to talk about how much of that will be passed on to small businesses, farmers and ranchers in higher premiums.

They are putting on a meeting on the subject Monday at 9 a.m. with the Stop The HIT Coalition  at the Farm Bureau office at 9177 East Mineral Circle in Centennial, if you’re interested.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is among the tax’s biggest opponents. He has a bill, the Healthcare Tax Relief Act, to delay adding the tax on insurers again. It took effect in 2014 but was suspended by Congress in 2015.

The failure of legislative efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare last summer has opponents hustling to head off the tax with another postponement, a banner Gardner is carrying.

“Pretty simple — business gets fee, fee gets passed on,” Gardner said on the Senate floor last week. “As is the case with most excise taxes, if this tax takes effect, costs will be passed to consumers in the form of higher premiums as confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office.”

Gardner cited an economic who estimated premiums could rise by 3 percent in each the next three years because of the tax.

The Stop The HIT Coalition was founded to fight the levy in 2011 by Tim Cuff of the National Federation of Independent Business, and the NFIB, the Farm Bureau, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are among the 39 business groups make up its membership.

As Republicans search for ways to pay for other tax cuts — and President Trump’s border wall — the health insurance tax repeal has not been gained traction, however

The Washington Post reported about the difficulty Paul Ryan had with it in August:

Ryan’s reluctance may be related to making Congress’s tax-math work. The health-insurance tax is estimated to raise $145 billion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That revenue loss would further complicate efforts to keep any tax changes from adding to the long-term federal deficit. Republican leaders need to achieve that goal in order to use a budget procedure that allows them to bypass Democratic opposition in the Senate.

“If you’re going to cut the corporate tax rate, somebody’s got to pay for it,” said Don Williamson, the executive director of the Kogod Tax Policy Center at American University.


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Jeff WasdenJeff WasdenOctober 10, 20176min4160

With the Senate looking toward what’s next on health care reform and open enrollment looming, one issue picking up bipartisan support is delaying the health insurance tax for 2018. Delaying the tax would be an immediate action Congress could take to lower premiums.  In fact, if a delay of this tax is passed soon, individuals, employers and seniors could see premiums lowered by as much 3 percent next year.


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Kevin LundbergKevin LundbergSeptember 22, 20176min2460

In his Aug. 31 news conference at the State Capitol, and again the following week in testimony before a committee of the U.S. Senate, Gov. Hickenlooper unveiled a “bipartisan plan” for improving the disastrous health care reform system dumped on the nation by very partisan Democrats in 2010. Yet, the “pragmatic proposals” put forward by Hickenlooper and his six partnering governors do not address many of the most serious problems created by the Affordable Care Act, known to its millions of victims as Obamacare.


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Tom RamstackTom RamstackSeptember 14, 20174min2298

 

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.