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Colorado bills to reduce cost of health insurance, prescription drugs signed into law

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As part of Colorado Democrats’ plans to reduce health care costs, Gov. Jared Polis signed two bills Wednesday meant to create a more affordable health insurance option and a prescription drug review board.

“You know what, Coloradans are sick and tired of getting ripped off on the high cost of prescription drugs,” Polis said, adding later that both bills faced heavy lobbying, which in his mind indicates they will bring real change.

“These are more than just nibbling around the margins of saving people money on health care,” he said.

HB21-1232 is the result of the long-anticipated “Colorado Option” benefit plan — initially meant to be a true public option. The new law would require insurance companies to work with providers and the state to create a new health insurance plan for the individual and small-group markets by Jan. 1, 2022. Premium costs must be 15% cheaper than their 2021 rates within three years (adjusted for medical inflation), and the plan must cover specific benefits like pediatric care and other benefits that are considered essential.

About 15% of Coloradans buy their health insurance on the small group and individual marketplaces combined, but the bill sponsors hope people who are uninsured can afford the new option and will boost the percentage of insured people.

The bill was backed only by Democrats, with Republicans saying the bill is too much government involvement in the private sector and a step toward free government-provided health care.

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