In a continuation of the string of healthcare-related legislation we’ve seen recently, Colorado Senate Bill 168 was introduced earlier this week. SB 168 would create a nonprofit healthcare cooperative to act as the benefits administrator and payer for health care services in Colorado. Similar to several other healthcare bills we’ve seen over the years, this one would implement change in a multi-step process: first by creating a proposed Colorado Health Care Authority, which would design the cooperative and take it to the legislature and then voters for approval.
SB 168 notes that although the PPACA will likely reduce the number of people who are uninsured, it will do little to address a range of other problems, including rising healthcare costs, the unaffordability of healthcare even for people who have health insurance, over-utilization of care, and the problems created when we link health insurance to employment. After reading through the description in the bill of how the cooperative would function, it appears that it would basically be a non-profit health insurance program (which would be secondary to any other health insurance a member has) that emphasizes the use of medical home style “integrated health care delivery systems”, patient-physician shared decision making, electronic health records, and overall transparency.
The bill also addresses funding for the cooperative, including coordination with federal and state health care funding source – both existing and anticipated as a result of the PPACA and other health care reform legislation. Initially the benefits package offered by the cooperative would be modeled on benefits offered by Medicare, but could expand (as funds allow) to include coverage for dental, vision, chiropractic, hearing, and long-term care services.
So far, the 2011 legislative session in Colorado has seen several health care bills introduced, and 2011 marks the implementation of the gender equality and maternity coverage legislation that were passed in last year’s session. As the federal debate surrounding health care marches on – both in the legislature and the court system – Colorado continues to make health care reform a priority on a state level as well. It will be interesting to see if SB 168 is successful in creating its proposed Health Care Authority and ultimately a non-profit health care cooperative.