Health Care Repeal Would Have Costly Consequences for Colorado Consumers and Small Businesses

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Denver, CO – Consumers and small businesses in Colorado will face significantly higher insurance premiums and could see costly coverage denials and price discrimination if efforts to repeal the federal health care law prevail in Congress or in the courts, according to The Cost of Repeal: Examining the Impact on Colorado of Repealing the New Federal Health Care Law, a new report released today by CoPIRG. 

According to the report, in the short term, repeal would strip tax credits from 82,400 Colorado small businesses. And over the longer term, the cost of offering employer-based health insurance could jump by more than $3000 a year over current law.

 “In today’s economy, the higher costs that would result from repeal are the last thing that Colorado consumers and businesses need,” said Danny Katz, the Director of CoPIRG.

The new CoPIRG report draws on data from independent sources, including the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, other government agencies, business groups and health analysts, and finds the following: 

  • Repealing the new state health insurance exchange would drive premiums on the individual market up to 20% higher for the same coverage by 2016.
  • Without the new law’s insurance reforms, the 21.7% of Colorado residents who have pre-existing conditions, ranging from asthma to cancer, will continue to face coverage denials and price discrimination when purchasing their own insurance.
  • Rolling back last year’s law would drive up employer health costs, leading to approximately 8,196 fewer jobs created per year in Colorado by the end of the decade.
  • Outright repeal would pull $5.9 billion in federal Medicaid dollars out of the state’s economy and eliminate funding for 160 new or expanded community health centers across Colorado.

The House is expected to consider a repeal bill later this week. And Washington’s intensely partisan debate over health care threatens to spill over to Denver as the Governor and state legislators consider key implementation decisions. 

The Cost of Repeal recommends a set of pro-active policy changes on which supporters and opponents of last year’s health care law should be able to find common ground.  These include:

  1. Using the substantial authority the state has under current law to design a health insurance exchange that is adapted to meet the needs of our state’s markets, consumers, and businesses.
  2. Taking additional steps to contain health care costs, like using information technology to ensure that doctors receive the latest research about which treatments are most effective – at the patient’s bedside.   
  3. Crack down on balance-billing, a practice whereby hospitals or providers accept payment from a patient’s insurance plan, then charge additional amounts-above and beyond the usual co-pays and cost sharing.

“Before our elected officials join this headlong rush to repeal in Washington, they should consider the consequences for our state, and look for solutions that hold down costs, not increase them,” said Katz.

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