Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill on Wednesday to set up a marketplace for individuals and small businesses to buy health insurance, making it the eighth state to voluntarily set up the exchanges since President Obama signed the 2010 health care law.
The new law would establish an Internet-based market where consumers could negotiate coverage plans and premiums with insurance providers. The exchange would be governed by a board of nine members, with up to four members representing the insurance industry. The governor began his search for board members almost a month before he signed the bill.
“This legislation moves Colorado forward with one voice,” Hickenlooper said in a written statement. “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.”
The exchange will run independently of the health agencies within the state and will initially be funded by gifts, grants, and donations, according to Hickenlooper.
Details about what kind of insurance plans will be included in the exchange were not defined. The Health and Human Services Department is writing guidelines for the exchanges, but has not made the ideas public.
“SB 200 gives Colorado the ability to focus on what is important to Colorado in the design and implementation of health benefits exchanges,” said Republican House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, a co-sponsor of the measure.
No Republicans in the Senate voted in favor of the bill. Tea Party members in the state plan to launch primary challenges against Stephens and other Republicans in the House who voted for the measure.
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