Wright tax cut withers on the vine

Jared Wright

DENVER — Rep. Jared Wright didn’t put a lot of effort into trying to get a House committee to pass his bill Wednesday to give tax credits to Coloradans who don’t sign up for health insurance.

The Fruita Republican, who introduced HB1106 with Colorado Springs GOP Rep. Dan Nordberg, said more than 250,000 adults and 46,000 children won’t be able to afford health insurance as required under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act.

“It doesn’t take much more than opening up a newspaper to see the difficulties that this state has had in rolling out our (health care) exchange,” Wright told the committee. “These are real people out there outside these walls who are stuck between a rock and a hard place. What this bill seeks to do is to give them a little bit of relief.”

Despite all those people who might be impacted by the health care law, however, neither Wright nor Nordberg brought any witnesses to testify in favor of the measure.

Only two people spoke out on it, and they were opposed.

“House Bill 1106 would create a perverse incentive for Coloradans to forgo health insurance,” Matthew Valeta, health policy analyst for the Colorado Consumer Health Institute, told the committee, which voted 7-4 along party lines to kill the bill.

“Unfortunately, insured people end up paying for uninsured folks,” added Kyle Brown, senior health policy analyst for the Colorado Center on Law & Policy. “Individuals and families are paying about $1,000 more in their health insurance premiums in order to subsidize the cost of the uninsured.”

By law, anyone who doesn’t otherwise have insurance through their employer or some other means must sign up for the state’s health care exchange and purchase insurance or pay a federal penalty.

Under the bill, Coloradans who chose not to sign up could have that penalty reimbursed to them in the form of a taxpayer-supported credit when they file their income tax returns.

A fiscal analysis of the bill shows that it would cost the state about $17 million over the next three years to pay for those tax breaks.

“The Affordable Care Act is the law and for me what this bill does is give tax breaks to law breakers, and that’s a precedent I don’t think we want to set,” said Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora. “It would be similar to allowing someone to run a red light and then claim their ticket on their tax returns.”


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