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Experts: Colorado to take $15 billion hit under Senate health care bill

Posted at 11:12 PM, Jun 22, 2017

DENVER -- Colorado could lose $15 billion over the next decade if the Senate health care bill becomes law. The calculation is from experts at the Colorado Health Institute, a non-partisan group.

A quarter of Coloradans use Medicaid, and because the Senate health care bill wants to roll back the expansion, it could affect The Centennial State in a major way.

Joe Hanel with the Colorado Health Institute explained how the bill would hit Coloradans.

"If you want to use the president's formulation ‘mean,’ then this bill is a little bit meaner than the House bill," said Hanel.

The program currently helps low-income adults, their children, people with disabilities, pregnant women and the elderly in nursing homes.

"If they go to the doctor or go to the hospital now, at least that provider gets some money seeing that patient. So, it's been good for Colorado hospitals to have what had been a large population of non-paying customers suddenly have a way to pay their bills," said Hanel.

The Senate bill puts the burden back on states to make up the cost, something that could be tough in Colorado, where voters have to approve all tax increases.

"That's going to be a decision that falls on the new governor and whoever's in the legislature. It's going to be a really tough one to make, and I don't envy whoever those people are," said Hanel.

More than 2 million Coloradans have a pre-existing condition. While the new bill would still cover them, it would also make things costlier for people living in rural areas.

"This bill, unfortunately, it makes things worse for those folks, because it cuts their subsidies and removes some of them from qualifying for subsidies in the first place," said Hanel.

Insurance rates have increased, and we have yet to see the 2018 numbers, but under the Senate bill, cost sharing payments will be covered for few years. Hanel suggests that could eventually leave a large pot of money to provide subsidies for insurance companies to cover really expensive customers.