Waiver for Colorado Option receives federal approval


Boram Kim


CMS approved Colorado’s 1332 waiver amendment request relating to the Colorado Option on Thursday, granting the state the financial flexibility to implement the premium rate reductions required by the initiative.


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Available to all Coloradans starting next year, the public health benefit plan is designed to make health insurance more affordable and reduce health disparities through more equitable coverage options.

“We are thrilled to partner with Colorado in our shared commitment to lowering health care costs and ensuring greater access to quality, affordable care,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Colorado Option will help thousands more families sign up for health coverage. I applaud Governor Jared Polis and encourage all states to pursue innovative ways to ensure health care is within reach for their residents.”

Lawmakers passed House Bill 1232 last year, designating the establishment of a standardized health benefit plan.

Under the law, private insurers are required to offer the standardized plan to individuals and small businesses on the state’s heath insurance exchange and reduce the plan’s premium rates by 15% over 3 years.   

The Colorado Option is expected to lower premiums by an average of $132 per person per month, or 22%. By 2027, the state projects 32,000 Coloradans to gain coverage.

“I’m thrilled that Colorado’s waiver has been approved—allowing us to move forward with this historic money-saving and forward-thinking program in Colorado,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a written statement Thursday. “Saving people money on health care couldn’t come at a better moment.”

The governor’s office said the approved federal waiver paves the way for an estimated $135 million in federal funding annually towards the Colorado Option, along with millions in additional savings from the 5 year extension of the state’s reinsurance waiver program. It added that waiver would support those who are ineligible for Medicaid and expand subsidies for people who purchase plans on the state’s exchange.