The Colorado legislature on Monday night sent a sweeping bill intended to drive down health care costs to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk, achieving an elusive goal for Democrats and launching the state into an experiment that could provide a roadmap for the rest of the country.
House Bill 1232 passed the General Assembly without the support of a single Republican in the House or Senate. Additionally, a handful of Democrats defected to vote against the measure, questioning its effectiveness and concerned about its effects on the health care industry.
The final vote in the House was 41-23, with one lawmaker excused. The final vote in the Senate was 19-16.
The version of the legislation being sent to Polis’ desk is a shadow of its original self.
The introduced version of the bill sought to force the health care industry to drive down costs by 20% or compete with and accept a public, state-offered health insurance plan. That proposal was scrapped to appease industry groups, namely the Colorado Hospital Association, for a policy that would require private insurers to offer a plan regulated by the state that reduces costs by 15%.
Colorado’s bill is similar to a program recently enacted in Washington state and which has had a bumpy rollout, with costs rising instead of going down. But Colorado Democrats feel they’ve tweaked their policy to avoid Washington’s pains, including by making the legislation statewide.
Polis, for whom the measure is a top priority, is expected to sign Colorado’s House Bill 1232 into law.
Opposition to the measure drove record lobbying spending at the Colorado Capitol this year.