Colorado hospitals and state regulators may be about to launch into the biggest health care fight the state has seen in decades, over a detail in the newly announced plan for a public health insurance option.

The plan would let Colorado officials limit what hospitals can charge to people who have coverage through the public insurance option. What's more, the state is prepared to require hospitals to accept the insurance — potentially making Colorado the first state to mandate hospital participation in a public insurance option and setting up a battle that could attract national attention.

Government control over hospital pricing — what is sometimes called "rate setting" — has gained steam in recent years among left-leaning groups and politicians nationwide as a way to control health care costs.

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