Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate and a Democratic governor eager to push aggressive health care measures have turned Colorado into one of the foremost health policy “laboratories” in the country.

State lawmakers took swift action on many of the same health issues being debated at the federal level, including a government-run health plan known as a “public option”.

Public Option is really another way of saying “universal” health care, or socialized medicine.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis took office in January 2019 with a determination to make radical changes to health care in Colorado.

Shortly after, the Legislature authorized the Polis administration to develop a public option proposal.

This year, its up to the Legislature to decide whether to implement the public option plan  Polis submitted.

The final draft retains a role for insurance companies in administering public option plans.

The plan would benchmark hospital payment rates to a percentage above what Medicare pays, developing a formula to adjust those rates for each hospital. A small rural hospital would be paid differently from a large urban hospital, and independent hospitals would be paid differently from chain hospitals.

As an indicator to how the plan may be received my medical providers, the state asked legislators for the authority to force hospitals and health plans to participate if they won’t do so voluntarily.

Some hospitals even sent out a mailer against the public option.

Insurers are also wary of the plan.

“We are very concerned – and I would say opposed – that the government will tell us the product, the price and the place that we have to sell,” said Amanda Massey, executive director of the Colorado Association of Health Plans. “That is fundamentally opposed to private business and competition.”

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