Health Care Exchange Bill Passes in Colorado

Before adjourning, Colorado’s General Assembly passed a bill to create a state health care exchange. Senate Bill 200, the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Act, also establishes a board of directors to govern the exchange.

 
Exchanges are arrangements required by federal health care reform to enable individuals and small employers (up to 100 employees) to purchase health insurance beginning in 2014. Each state will have the option to allow employers of more than 100 employees to purchase insurance through the exchange beginning in 2017.
 
Federal health care reform requires to create an exchange or default to a federally run national exchange. To avoid that, the General Assembly passed this bill creating an exchange to address Colorado’s unique needs. This includes the needs of rural Coloradans and small employers relative to access, affordability, and choice of health insurance. The exchange is intended to create a competitive marketplace for insurance, and all carriers authorized to sell insurance in the state may participate in the exchange.
 
The board of directors will be composed of 12 members—mostly business representatives—nine of whom will be voting members. Gov. Hickenlooper will appoint five voting members, and no more than three members can be from the same political party. The board will be responsible for a number of duties including appointing an executive director, creating the state exchange, creating technical and advisory groups, reviewing Internet portals, and considering appropriate size of the small-employer market.
 
Many business and consumer groups support the bill, believing that a state-run exchange is one of the better options for slowing the rise of health insurance premiums that have impacted so many small employers.

The bill has been sent to Gov. Hickenlooper, who has said he supports the measure but hasn’t yet signed the bill.