Colorado Governor affirms commitment to health and affordability in 2023 State of the State address

Gov. Jared Polis presented his annual State of the State address to the Colorado House of Representatives on Wednesday where he outlined the progress his administration has made on healthcare and the ongoing issues around affordability facing the state. 

 

 

“Together we’ve reduced costs for healthcare coverage through Reinsurance, the Colorado Option, Omni Salud, and expanded Medicaid and CHIP,” Polis told lawmakers. “Just last week we learned that more than 34,000 people have enrolled in Colorado Option plans, saving Coloradans millions of dollars and surpassing original estimates for enrollment.”

The Division of Insurance (DOI) estimates the reinsurance program saved Coloradans on individual marketplace plans an average of 24% on their healthcare premiums in 2022, savings that the administration said would continue in 2023. As the Reinsurance Program enters its fourth year, DOI estimates Coloradans will save $294 million on their individual plan premiums in 2023.

Polis spoke to the ongoing efforts to save people money on their prescriptions, citing the work in 2023 to develop the Canadian drug importation program and the Prescription Drug Affordability Board. He said the state needs to do more on affordability, calling for increased accountability from insurers and providers to reduce the costs. 

“Some health insurers continue to profit from Coloradans while administrative costs, unrelated to patient care, continue soaring,” Polis said. “Insurers need to step it up for lower costs and better outcomes. Similarly, some large hospital systems are making record profits, paying zero taxes, and sitting on enormous reserves while overcharging customers. Meanwhile, they are consolidating providers, which drives up costs and leaves fewer options for Coloradans. It’s time that we hold them accountable.”

Polis also called on nonprofit hospitals to work with their communities to improve maternal and mental health and support social determinants of health like housing and food. 

Voters in Colorado passed Prop. 123 in November, which directs up to 0.1% of annual state income tax revenue, an estimated $300 million a year, from the General Fund to the Department of Local Affairs’ affordable housing programs. The need for more affordable housing was a significant focus of his address, calling on lawmakers to remove the regulatory barriers that restrict zoning and authorization for building projects such as modular housing and sustainable development. 

“Let me be clear—housing policy is climate policy, housing policy is economic policy, housing policy is transportation policy, housing policy is water policy, housing policy is public health and equity policy,” Polis said. “It impacts every part of our lives, which is why it’s so critical that we get this right. We need everyone to come to the table and work toward a real solution.”