Smallwood Bill Could Help Improve Coverage Options

Denver -- Coloradans confronting a narrowing number of increasingly expensive health insurance options could soon have one new option available to them, if a bill making its way through the Colorado Statehouse continues to progress.  

Senate Bill-132, authored by Parker Republican Jim Smallwood, requires the state’s Insurance Commissioner to seek a waiver from federal Obamacare rules that restrict the sale of so-called catastrophic care plans, which could soon allow every Coloradan to purchase such plans through the state’s Obamacare exchange. Smallwood’s bill passed its first legislative test Thursday, winning unanimous bipartisan approval of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. 

These plans may save consumers as much as 30 percent in their medical premiums while still complying with almost all of the significant Obamacare protections, such as limits on out of pockets costs, coverage for essential health benefits and assurances that pre-existing conditions aren’t excluded. Although catastrophic plans may not be the right choice for every Coloradan, Smallwood told the committee that they could have appeal to those Coloradans who aren’t rich enough to absorb high costs, and not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or Obamacare subsidies.

 “Those being squeezed hardest by the rising cost of care aren’t lower income people covered by Medicaid, or older individuals who get Medicare, but those in the economic middle who aren’t wealthy but still make too much money to qualify for subsidies,” said Smallwood. “It’s for these caught-in-the-middle Coloradans, who are willing to pay lower premiums for coverage that isn’t quite as rich but still can stave-off enormous bills resulting from major medical costs, that this bill is written.”

Applying for a federal Obamacare waiver won’t guarantee we’ll get one. But the sooner we try, the sooner we can help provide one more option for those who want coverage but aren’t well served by the current market, said Smallwood.  

SB-132 passed on a unanimous 5 to 0 vote and now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for action.


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