Colorado: @C4HCO establishes Public Benefit Corp. to administer additional state subsidies starting in 2023

This is interesting...via Connect for Health Colorado:

DENVER – Connect for Health Colorado®, the official health insurance marketplace for Coloradans, has formally launched a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC).

The PBC will offer health care ancillary products and services across the state as well as work to increase Coloradans’ health literacy.

This new organization will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Connect for Health Colorado and will be a separate entity from Connect for Health Colorado.  It will not affect residents’ ability to buy Qualified Health Plans and apply for financial help through our Marketplace.

On the surface, the purpose of this PBC seems a bit vague...it sounds like it has something to do with the ACA Navigator program to help people shop for insurance on the exchange, to help them enroll in Medicaid and so forth...and those may still be part of its mission.

However, the more important part is this:

One of the anticipated functions of the PBC will be to administer the plans and financial assistance to Coloradans according to the Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise. The financial help will be in the form of a separate state-funded subsidy and will be available to individuals and families in Colorado beginning in 2023.

Over the summer Colorado's state legislature passed a bill over the summer called the "Health Insurance Affordabililty Fund" which replaces the now-defunct federal Health Insurance Tax (HIT) with a similar tax on insurance carriers statewide...expected to generate up to $100 million per year:

..the money would provide funding for the reinsurance program at up to $90 million per year. Anything left over from that could go to additional subsidies to help people in the individual market buy insurance.

Advocacy groups that support the bill say those subsidies could, for instance, benefit the roughly 40,000 people in Colorado who are caught in the so-called family glitch. That issue prohibits people from getting federal subsidies to buy health insurance in the individual market if they have access to coverage through an employer, even if that employer-based coverage is wildly unaffordable. Other subsidies could go to help lower-income people whose costs are increased by the reinsurance program.

The bill also notes that people will be eligible for state subsidies regardless of their immigration status. Currently, immigrants without documentation are not eligible to receive federal subsidies for health insurance and are believed to make up a disproportionate share of the state’s uninsured.

The article makes it sound like these are just ideas which were being batted around, but this from C4HCO makes it sound like that's definitely what the money will be used for:

The Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise protects and expands financial help for health coverage and will be housed in the Division of Insurance. A board will oversee the enterprise fund, which would be allocated to:

  1. Fund the reinsurance program.
  2. Provide financial help to people with lower incomes whose net premium would increase as the individual market price for insurance decreases.
  3. Set up a fund to provide financial help to people who do not otherwise qualify under Affordable Care Act rules (e.g. households who are not qualified because of the “family glitch”). 

It sounds like the bulk of the money would go to the reinsurance program, so I'm not sure how far the balance could be spread; at the time I spitballed perhaps $15 million/year could be allocated towards the second and third causes. It would likely only amount to a few hundred dollars in help per enrollee. Still, every little bit helps.

Of course, this all assumes that the ACA itself is still even in place by 2023...

Assuming it all goes through, however, Colorado is set to join California, New Jersey, Vermont and Massachusetts as providing their own supplemental financial subsidies to ACA exchange enrollees in some fashion. Of course, I'm hoping very much that ACA 2.0 will be signed into law long before we even get to that point.