Colo. lawmakers get vocal over proposed Connect for Health fee

May 13, 2015

Lawmakers on an oversight committee Wednesday questioned leaders of Colorado’s health insurance exchange about proposed fee hikes on insurance customers.

As $177 million in federal startup grants to Connect for Health wind down, the exchange's leaders are crafting a plan they say will make the program financially sustainable. 

They propose to do that with a new 3.5 percent charge on insurance premiums, which they call both reasonable and necessary. But they got an earful from lawmakers, including Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud.

“We were assured on this committee for years that it’s about $26 million a year to run this.  And I know, you’re saying, OK, now we know what it really is.  Well, surprise, surprise, it sounds like it’s a whole lot more than that," Lundberg said.

Another lawmaker questioned the exchange’s “moderately aggressive” enrollment projections. A third wondered why customers should pay higher fees while insurers are seeing high profits.

The exchange's board is expected to vote on the fee hike Thursday. With a green light, the move would mean that the fee for a $4,000 yearly plan would go up by $84. Staff also recommended upping a monthly assessment charge for 1.2 million private insurance policies to bring in $2 million more.

Overall, the plan would boost revenue for the exchange by $5.8 million.