Colo. lawmakers get vocal over proposed Connect for Health fee


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.