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Colorado Senate and House Democrats on Wednesday issued the following press release on Gov. Jared Polis signing into law two bills meant to bring down health insurance and prescription drug costs, including the Colorado Option championed by state Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and state Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon:
DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed legislation into law that will reduce the cost of health care and prescription drugs in Colorado. The Colorado Option will save consumers on the individual and small group markets 15 percent on their health insurance and offer a new option with lower out-of-pocket costs that covers what consumers need.
“This is a momentous day for our state because finally, lower health care costs and new options are coming soon to every Colorado county! Starting in 2023, Coloradans who purchase insurance on the individual or small group markets will have a new option that’s going to cost less and be high quality,” said Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon. “The high cost of health care leads too many people to have to choose between going to the doctor or paying for necessities. With the Colorado Option, we’re going to save individuals and small businesses thousands per year on their health insurance and increase access to affordable and quality health care for families, small businesses and people across our state.”
“Today is a great day for Colorado. After a years-long process where the health care industry, advocacy groups, and legislators came together – refusing to accept the status quo – we have accomplished what once seemed impossible,” said Senator Kerry Donovan, D-Vail. “Rather than stand idly by as folks were forced to choose between paying rent and paying their insurance bill, we moved forward with the knowledge that accessible, affordable, high-quality care can be a reality. I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to accomplish on behalf of every Coloradan. Because whether you’re a raft guide in Steamboat, a small business owner in Denver, or a ranching family in Bennett, this bill will make a real difference in your quality of life.”
“Neither the color of your skin, your zip code, your residency status, your income nor a company’s profit margins should dictate whether you have access to health care,” said Rep. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora. “For too long, Coloradans have been paying too much and getting too little in return. This is a big win in our ongoing fight to increase options and value while making health care more affordable and equitable.”
The Colorado Option will lower health care costs for individuals, families, and small businesses across the state. HB21-1232 creates a new health insurance option, a standardized plan for consumers on the individual and small group markets, and the law requires health insurance carriers to bring premiums down by 15 percent over three years. The standardized health plan will cover the services consumers need at a lower cost, address historical health inequities, and lower out-of-pocket costs for consumers.
“No one should have to choose between buying food or the prescriptions they need,” said Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Boulder County. “If we truly want to make health care more affordable and accessible for all, then we need to find ways to lower the cost of prescription drugs. This affordability board will set an affordability standard for high-cost drugs so that more Colorado patients can access the medications they need at a price they can afford.”
“With nearly one in three Coloradans unable to afford the cost of their life saving prescription drugs, it’s clear we couldn’t wait any longer to drive down costs and save people money,” said Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood. “For seniors who can’t afford their prescriptions and for parents of young kids with expensive medications, relief is on the way. The bill the governor signed today is going to rein in out-of-control drug costs and bring badly needed relief to the Coloradans struggling to pay for the medicine they need.”
“As a physician, I never want to have that conversation with a patient where we try to figure out what drug they should take based on what they can afford, but doctors have these conversations all the time because prescription drug costs are just unaffordable for too many families,” said Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, a pediatrician. “This new law creates guardrails to help Coloradans afford life-saving drugs and will help us get to the bottom of spikes in the cost of these drugs. Colorado is going to lead the way once again on reducing the cost of health care and prescription drugs.”
“Prescription drug costs have risen astronomically, forcing patients to ration their medications or forego them all together,” said Senator Julie Gonzales, D-Denver. “This dangerous trend must end. Every Coloradan should be able to maintain their health without breaking the bank. With this new law, we can lower the ever-increasing costs of pharmaceuticals as well as address ongoing health disparities – bringing our state one step closer toward a healthcare system that prioritizes patients over profit.”
Nearly one-in-three Coloradans struggle to afford the cost of prescription drugs. With passage of SB21-175, the Prescription Drug Affordability Board will convene a panel of experts to investigate prescription drug cost increases, and set guardrails on purchase prices for the most expensive prescription drugs in the state. The affordability board would set upper payment limits for prescription drugs that meet certain cost increase thresholds. These payment limits would apply to all purchasers in the state, but will only be placed on the highest cost drugs. The board will collect and evaluate the data necessary to review the affordability of prescription drugs and make policy recommendations to legislators. The board will be made up of nonpartisan, unpaid, highly qualified health care experts who are free from conflicts of interest.