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Gov. Hickenlooper announces bipartisan support to create Colorado Health Benefits Exchange

Monday, March 21, 2011 — Gov. John Hickenlooper announced bipartisan support today to introduce legislation that would create the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange. The governor was joined at the announcement by Senate President Pro-tem Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, and House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument.


“We want a Colorado-based health exchange that is created by Coloradans, for Coloradans,” Hickenlooper said. “This legislation will give Colorado a voluntary and competitive insurance marketplace for individuals and small businesses to choose between easy-to-compare affordable health care options. We appreciate the work by Sen. Boyd and Rep. Stephens to help us move health reform forward in Colorado with one voice.”

The proposed legislation is expected to be introduced today in the Colorado Senate.

“Colorado’s health care system has a history of innovation and trendsetting that is respected, studied and admired around the nation. We have created new and effective ways to help Coloradans live the healthiest lives possible,” Boyd said. “We have done so by asking the simple question: What’s best for Colorado? Today we answer that question again by introducing a bill in the Senate to create the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange. The Exchange will lower costs and increase value by facilitating the purchase of health insurance for small businesses and hundreds of thousands of Coloradans.”

“The Colorado Health Benefits Exchange is the result of what can happen when individuals, business leaders and lawmakers come together to face a challenge,” Stephens said. “The exchange will make insurance more affordable for individuals and employers alike.”

The current legislative framework is designed to avoid, at this stage, more contentious questions about benefits, plan certification and other matters. The core components of the bill are:

  • The state of Colorado establishes the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange, an independent public entity not affiliated with an existing state agency or department.
  • The Colorado Health Benefits Exchange shall initially be funded by gifts, grants and donations, and shall apply for establishment grants pursuant to Section 1311 of the federal Affordable Care Act.
  • The Colorado Health Benefits Exchange shall be governed by a board consisting of nine members who are permanent Colorado residents. The majority of the board members will be individuals and business representatives who are not directly affiliated with the insurance industry.
  • Of the nine members, five shall be appointed by the Governor, and one each appointed by: the President of the Senate; the Speaker of the House; the Minority Leader of the House; and the Minority Leader of the Senate. These appointments should be coordinated to ensure a broad representation of identified skill sets.
  • Each person appointed to the board shall have demonstrated expertise in at least two of the following areas: (a) individual health insurance coverage; (b) small business health insurance coverage; (c) health benefits administration; (d) health care finance; (e) administering a public or private health care delivery system; (f) purchasing health insurance coverage; (g) health care consumer navigation or assistance; (h) health care economics or health care actuarial sciences; (i) information technology; (j) starting a small business with 50 or fewer employees; and (k) expert in the provision of health care service.
  • Non-voting ex-officio members shall include: the executive director of the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, or his or her designee; the Commissioner of Insurance in the Division of Insurance, or his or her designee; and the executive director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, or his or her designee.
  • Board appointees, other than ex-officio member, shall be appointed for a term of four years, except that four of the initial appointments by the Governor shall be for two years.
  • Creates a new legislative committee of 10 members that meet five times a year. The committee will review and approve grants and an initial work plan.
  • The Board shall hire an executive director to administer the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange who is approved by legislative committee.
  • The Board shall provide an annual report to the House and Senate Committees of reference.
  • The Colorado Health Benefits Exchange operations shall comply with sunshine laws and ethics requirements.
  • The Board shall create technical advisory groups as needed.

Click here to hear audio from the press conference today.