Insurance exchange clears Colo. Senate

DENVER — Colorado Republicans are closer to facing a tough call on an insurance proposal that GOP business allies support but others decry as a move to embrace the federal health care law.

The Democratic Senate gave final approval today to a bill that would set up a state exchange, allowing individuals and small businesses to pool together to seek lower health care premiums. Supporters point out that states that don’t set up exchanges will simply be assigned one by the federal government in future years and say Colorado should act now to craft its own exchange.

But Senate Republicans were united against the idea today. Some argued unsuccessfully that Colorado is simply playing along with flawed federal health plans.

“The exchange idea is something that is being forced upon us by federal legislation,” said Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs.

Democrats overruled the GOP and passed the exchange 20-15 in a party-line vote. That sets up an interesting second act for the health exchange bill in the House.

The House is ruled by Republicans, and GOP leader Amy Stephens is a co-sponsor of the proposal. Stephens later said she would support the exchange plan only if Colorado also seeks a waiver from other provisions of the health care act. She says she is working to come up with an exchange plan both parties accept.

But many House Republicans may resist. The chamber’s third-ranking Republican, Rep. Mark Waller, said he’s still undecided on the measure.

“I’m still researching it and trying to figure out what I’m going to do,” Waller said.


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