DENVER, Colo. — Colorado physicians today called on the state Senate to approve the Colorado Option, a health care plan that reduces costs and expands comprehensive affordable health care to residents. The physicians’ appeal comes after the state House passed the plan on Monday.
“I’ve seen throughout my career that a lot of people don’t get the care they need because of the cost,” said Dr. Scott Nelson, an otolaryngology specialist in Boulder. “The Colorado Option can mean the difference between families getting the relief they need and leading rewarding lives, and the present situation, which is really not tenable. The bill would reduce premiums and put it to health insurance companies to control our costs, which currently is not the case.”
“Colorado could be a leader for the nation in showing that health care can be higher quality at a lower cost, and that’s why I’m very excited about this bill coming before the Senate,” said Dr. Lauri Costello, a retired family medicine physician in Durango.
On Monday, the House passed the Colorado Health Insurance Option, which would significantly lower health insurance premiums on the individual and small group markets and create a new option for Coloradans that saves them money and increases access to health care.
When asked why some physicians have testified against the bill in the House, Dr. Nelson and Dr. Costello attributed it to industry pressure and money.
“As a member of the Colorado Medical Society [CMS], I realize there’s been a call by the society for lots of people to testify against the bill,” said Dr. Nelson. “[But this bill] should get the support of the majority of doctors because we believe in quality health care and after a full review of the bill, doctors and providers will see significant benefits. It’s disappointing that CMS’s position doesn’t reflect the full breadth of those in their membership.”
“If you look at the reasons [some] doctors would say they don’t want this, it comes down to preserving the status quo, but the reality is that the status quo isn’t working for many, many Colorado consumers and it’s time for a big change,” said Dr. Costello. “There are hard-working people all across this state who cannot afford insurance and even worse, people who pay thousands of dollars a year for insurance they cannot use because the cost of care is outrageous. The profit-first status quo of some hospitals and insurance companies in the state is not working.”
The Colorado Option would benefit millions of middle-class and working Colorado families who buy their own insurance or work in jobs without health care. The Colorado Option reduces health care premiums, creates more no-cost services, lowers out-of-pocket costs, addresses health equity and racial disparities, and holds insurance and drug corporations accountable for keeping health care affordable. The Colorado Option would:
Reduce premiums 18 percent over three years.
Create a standardized benefit plan, which would be available to individuals and small businesses in every county in Colorado.
Protects hospitals that serve people who use Medicare or Medicaid, or are not insured, including hospitals in rural and underserved areas.
Creates Colorado’s first-ever health insurance Consumer Ombudsperson, who will be a chief advocate for consumers against large corporations.
The Colorado Option provides relief for families and small businesses, especially those hit hard during the pandemic. Health care costs have continued to skyrocket: Since 2010, average family premiums have increased 55 percent, at least twice as fast as wages at 27 percent and inflation, 19 percent. Prices for more than 500 prescription drugs went up a median of 4.6 percent in 2020, about double the projected rate of inflation. Already, Americans currently spend more on health care than comparable countries, yet see poorer health outcomes and lower life expectancy.
One in six Colorado counties only have one insurance provider. Communities of color and LGBTQ Coloradans are more likely to lack health care. And 89 percent of uninsured Coloradans say healthcare costs are unaffordable and a barrier to care and treatment.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, May 14, 2021
NOTE: The physicians above are speaking in their capacity as members of the Committee to Protect Health Care. They should be identified only as indicated in this news release.