Hickenlooper signs Health Exchange bill

Gov. John Hickenlooper today signed the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange bill into law. One of the more controversial bills to make it through both chambers this year, the bill enables Colorado to become one of the first states with its own health care exchange.

SB 200, sponsored by Senate President Pro-tem Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, and House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument, establishes a voluntary, competitive insurance marketplace.

“This legislation moves Colorado forward with one voice,” Hickenlooper said. “The health exchange will allow individuals and small businesses to choose among easy-to-compare affordable health care options. It will give Coloradans more control, quality choices and better protections when buying insurance. We are grateful to the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Betty Boyd and Rep. Amy Stephens, and various interest groups for working through partisan politics to do what’s right for all of Colorado.”

SB 200 will allow individuals and small businesses looking for insurance to join together with others to negotiate for group rates and discounts the way larger companies currently do.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to carry this legislation, and I am enormously proud to see the Health Exchange Act signed into law,” Boyd said in a press release. “I have never seen such a broad-based coalition of support for a piece of health care legislation. I appreciate how business groups, consumer advocates, insurers and health care providers came together to support this uniquely Colorado solution to help individuals and small businesses purchase health coverage.”

“SB 200 gives Colorado the ability to focus on what is important to Colorado in the design and implementation of health benefit exchanges,” Stephens said. “I applaud the business community, the health community and the consumer community for supporting this important legislation.”

The Colorado Health Exchange will be an independent public entity not affiliated with an existing state agency or department and initially funded by gifts, grants and donations. The exchange will be governed by nine board members of whom the majority will be individuals and business representatives who are not directly affiliated with the insurance industry. The board will hire the exchange’s executive director.

Dede de Percin, executive director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative released this statement:

The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative is delighted that Governor Hickenlooper signed the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange Bill. This is a big win for Colorado’s businesses, families and individuals who have struggled with skyrocketing health insurance costs for years.

CCHI congratulates Senate sponsor Sen. President Pro-Tem Betty Boyd and House sponsor and Majority Leader Rep. Amy Stephens for committing to a bipartisan agreement that will enable tens of thousands of Coloradans to gain health care coverage. Colorado now will be in charge of our own health care exchange process.

The state now will be able to prepare a voluntary, competitive insurance marketplace, putting individuals in control of making decisions among easy-to-compare, quality and more affordable choices. We are pleased Colorado consumers will be able to buy insurance on our state-based exchange starting in 2014.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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