DENVER – The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange lives to see another day. A Colorado House subcommittee on Tuesday killed a bill that would have killed the exchange.
Lawmakers voted 9-2 to defeat House Bill 13-1078, which would have repealed the exchange mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act and signed into state law in 2011.
Kelli Fritts, associate state director and advocacy representative for AARP Colorado, said the exchange is a key way for people to find affordable, small group or individual health insurance – especially for Coloradans with pre-existing health conditions.
“What we currently have in Colorado, Cover Colorado, which was a marketplace for people with preexisting conditions – there’s just really one place,” she said. “And now there’s a lot of choices for individuals.”
The Colorado Health Benefit Exchange is creating a nonprofit marketplace called “Connect for Health Colorado,” which will allow Coloradans to compare private insurance plan costs and benefits.
The House committee’s decision means the exchange should be online in Colorado later this year, Fritts said.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “They’re going to start actually enrolling people this year. So, it’s moving forward and we wholeheartedly want to see that.”
Rep. Janak Joshi, R-Colorado Springs, a former doctor, sponsored the anti-exchange bill. He said he believes the exchange will be a fiscal burden on Coloradans and that insurance should function as a free marketplace. However, under the Affordable Care Act, without a state-run exchange Colorado would have been forced to participate in a federal insurance-exchange program.
More information on the exchange is online at getcoveredco.org.