Health insurance rate deadline for Colorado hits as Hickenlooper, DeGette talk health care Monday

Posted at 1:42 PM, Jun 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-19 16:29:59-04

DENVER – Health care is slated for a big day in Colorado Monday, as several Democrats are holding high-profile events on the same day that insurance companies are supposed to submit their rate hike proposals to the state’s insurance division.

Gov. John Hickenlooper will join Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 at 6 p.m. Mountain Time Monday to extrapolate on a letter they and a bipartisan committee of governors sent to the U.S. Senate Friday asking for better protections in the Senate’s version of the American Health Care Act.

The Friday letter came from governors from both sides of the aisle in states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The governors say that the House-passed version of the bill “calls into question coverage for the vulnerable and fails to provide the necessary resources to ensure that no one is left out, while shifting significant costs to the states.”

The governors wrote that the provisions in the bill involving Medicaid were “particularly problematic.”

They said they were ready to work with senators “to develop a proposal that is fiscally sound and provides quality, affordable coverage for our most vulnerable citizens.”

The letter asks that Congress focus on “improving” the private health insurance system in the U.S., and says that the House version of the bill fails to protect “millions of Americans, including many who are dealing with mental illness, chronic health problems, and drug addiction.”

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., had some strong words for his Republican colleagues Monday, who have been accused of keeping all details of the Senate's health care bill secret -- even from the Republicans not working on the bill.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R) has drawn criticism for being one of the 13 Republican senators reportedly developing the bill in private months after he called for transparency in the process to reform health care in the U.S.

"[Senate Republicans] are so ashamed of health care bill, they won't even share it with GOP colleagues--much less Dems or American [people]," Bennet tweeted, following up with a hashtag: #NoHearingNoVote.

Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., brought further light to some of those concerns Monday morning when she hosted a news conference with providers, families and young people who might be affected by the potential cuts to Medicaid.

Though the Senate is reportedly working on a version of the AHCA that differs from the House-passed version, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the House bill would cut more than $800 billion in Medicaid funding over the next decade, something that has caused concern and pause to Democrats, health care groups and groups serving low-income families and people with disabilities.

Estimates have shown that more than 400,000 people in Colorado added Medicaid coverage under the ACA’s expansion, and that nearly 1.3 million total Coloradans rely on Medicaid coverage.

DeGette said Monday that the AHCA was an “assault on our health care” and said it was time for lawmakers “to do the right thing for our kids.”

Monday is also a big day for Colorado’s insurance market, as it is the last day for insurance companies operating in the state to file their rate requests with the Colorado Division of Insurance.

Those filings could have huge ramifications in Colorado. Depending on the rate hike requests, and if Anthem decides to stay in Colorado, the coverage for people in more than a dozen Colorado counties could be up in the air.

But the Division of Insurance tells Denver7 that the requests will have to be analyzed and will likely not be publicly available until mid-July.

In a weekend story, The Denver Post reported that Kaiser Permanente was the only Colorado health care provider that explicitly committed to selling plans next year on the state health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado.

Spokespersons for Cigna and Anthem would only say they were eyeing the market conditions in the state.

Two of the seven companies operating on the state exchange, Colorado Choice Health Plans and Rocky Mountain Health Plans, did not respond to The Post’s requests for comment.

After the rate requests are made public, they will be open for public comment into August before the state decides whether to approve the new rates or to deny them.

The Senate continues to craft a bill through various committee meetings with Republicans and the president, though most senators admit they have yet to see a text of the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has floated the idea of trying to vote on the Senate’s version of the bill before the July 4 recess.

Democratic senators are also expected to try and hold the Senate floor Monday night to open up the debate on the health care bill. It's unknown at this time if Sen. Michael Bennet will join them.