Have insurance? Paying $1 more may help those who don’t

All Coloradans who have health or dental insurance would have to pay an additional $1 a year to help children with catastrophic illnesses.

While that may not seem like a great amount, House Bill 1103 generated heated debate Friday in the Colorado House.

The bill would create the Relief Fund for Children with Catastrophic Medical Conditions.

It would impose an annual $1 fee on the estimated 2.38 million people in the state who have health insurance and the 460,000 Coloradans with dental coverage, raising about $2.8 million in the process.

The fund would pay medical costs for chronic illnesses of children whose families are uninsured or not covered for such illnesses by their plans or some other state or federal program.

Democrats argued that creating the fund is the compassionate thing to do; Republicans agreed but questioned why private citizens and not state government was being asked to foot the bill.

“Core beliefs of what we think government should do, taking care of people who cannot take care of themselves (and) people with disabilities, definitely fall into that category,” said Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland. “The opposition for my part on this bill is the government is refusing to step up and look at its own priorities.”

DelGrosso said the state has several programs it could do away with to pay for this.

He said the state could get rid of less important boards or commissions, do away with the need for license plates on the front of motorists’ cars or suspend a tax credit the state pays Coloradans who purchase energy-efficient appliances.

“What’s more of a priority, what’s more of a role of government, to help somebody buy a TV or a washing machine or help somebody with disabilities?” he asked. “A no vote on this bill is not saying no to these people with disabilities. It’s not about the dollar; it’s about the principle: Every time we want to start a program ... we’ll just ask the citizens of Colorado to open up their checkbooks.”

Lawmakers amended the bill to ensure it applied to government workers, too.

Before the bill can head to the Senate, it requires a final House vote, which could come as early as Monday.


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