‘Public Option’ is not the solution for Colorado families

By Rose Femia Pugliese | Colorado Springs Gazette

As a mother of a child with significant health needs, I understand first-hand the struggles of many Colorado families to find affordable health insurance options. Governor Jared Polis and lawmakers are gearing up to reintroduce a statewide government insurance option bill this session, but the plan rehashes many tried-and-failed policies that have proven costly, both here in Colorado and across the country. Officials would be prudent to learn from lessons of the past.

On its surface, creating a state-operated public insurance option seems to offer a shiny fix. Instead, a government insurance option could have adverse effects by slashing the quality of care and threatening access to care, while we are all dealing with a public health crisis.

Here in Colorado and across the country, government-operated insurance programs have been tried and have failed. Results have ranged from ineffective to disastrous. When the Affordable Care Act was introduced, Colorado regulators created a public insurance co-op, a plan similar to the latest proposal. The program was unable to cover medical costs despite a recommended 25 percent premium increase. When it was shut down, tens of thousands of people were left without healthcare and the taxpayers were stuck with $72 million of federal debt.

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