Insurance Commissioner sends letter to state’s Congressional delegation

Requests they avoid changes that would destabilize the health insurance market.

DENVER (April 20, 2017) – Colorado’s Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar has sent a letter to Colorado’s Congressional delegation, asking them to commit to certainty and stability regarding the individual health insurance market.

“Uncertainty around the individual insurance market for 2018 is making everyone nervous,” said Commissioner Salazar, who heads the Division of Insurance, part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). “And ultimately, this uncertainty is going to hurt Colorado consumers.”

In asking for a commitment, the letter lays out the potential impact to Coloradans.

"Uncertainty about the regulatory environment may cause carriers to raise premiums. In particular, the uncertainty surrounding the payment and funding of the Cost Sharing     Reductions (CSR) provided by the Affordable Care Act could have a significant and detrimental impact on the individual market in Colorado. If the CSRs are not funded, at a minimum, Coloradans are estimated to see a 12-19% rate increase for that alone. At the worst, carriers could decide to forgo the increased risk and simply exit the individual market in Colorado, leaving consumers with fewer choices in carriers and plans. Using the CSRs as a bargaining chip is tantamount to gambling with Coloradans access to healthcare. 

“Roughly 400,000 Coloradans buy their health insurance through the individual market. Changes that undermine the individual market will lead to an increase in uninsured Coloradans, impacting all of us through higher medical charges and higher premiums in both group and individual plans.”

“I am committed to working for continued access to affordable health insurance for Colorado, and reaching out to our members of Congress is part of that work,” said Commissioner Salazar. “I am hopeful that the gains made in our state through the ACA will not be erased.”

The letter was sent to the following.

  • U.S. Senator Michael Bennet
  • U.S. Senator Cory Gardner
  • U.S. Congressman Ken Buck (4th Congressional District)
  • U.S. Congressman Mike Coffman (6th Congressional District)
  • U.S. Congresswoman Diana DeGette (1st Congressional District)
  • U.S. Congressman Doug Lamborn (5th Congressional District)
  • U.S. Congressman Ed Perlmutter (7th Congressional District)
  • U.S. Congressman Jared Polis (2nd Congressional District)
  • U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton (3rd Congressional District)


FULL TEXT OF COLORADO INSURANCE COMMISSIONER’S LETTER TO STATE’S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION:

As Congress considers changes to the structure of our individual health insurance markets, I ask that you avoid significant changes for 2018 that would destabilize the individual market.  Uncertainty in our individual health insurance markets creates additional costs, driving the cost of health insurance even higher. With preliminary insurance rates due to be filed in the next few weeks, Coloradans need certainty and stability in their individual health insurance market.

Everyday brings new information and speculation from policymakers and others in Washington about potential changes to federal health insurance laws. The signs coming from the White House and Congress are worrying and often conflicting.  Even after the President announced that he was moving on from repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, a steady drumbeat of rumors about a new deal being negotiated behind closed doors has begun creeping out of Washington.

As Colorado Insurance Commissioner, I am deeply committed to maintaining access to affordable quality coverage by preserving the stability of Colorado’s individual health insurance market, but the continued uncertainty caused by fluctuating directions from Washington could have a disastrous impact on the individual health insurance market in 2018. I have met with health insurance carriers about their participation in 2018 and all have expressed deep concerns about the increasing political and regulatory uncertainty around the individual health care market. Carriers must submit their proposed plans and premiums for 2018 in the next few weeks, and do not have the luxury to wait for a clear picture to emerge later this year. 

Uncertainty about the regulatory environment may cause carriers to raise premiums.  In particular, the uncertainty surrounding the payment and funding of the Cost Sharing Reductions (CSR) provided by the Affordable Care Act could have a significant and detrimental impact on the individual market in Colorado. If the CSRs are not funded, at a minimum, Coloradans are estimated to see a 12-19% rate increase for that alone. At the worst, carriers could decide to forgo the increased risk and simply exit the individual market in Colorado, leaving consumers with fewer choices in carriers and plans. Using the CSRs as a bargaining chip is tantamount to gambling with Coloradans access to healthcare. 

Roughly 400,000 Coloradans buy their health insurance through the individual market.  Changes that undermine the individual market will lead to an increase in uninsured Coloradans, impacting all of us through higher medical charges and higher premiums in both group and individual plans.

I respectfully request that you avoid significant changes to the health insurance market for the 2018 plan year that would destabilize the individual market.  Additionally, I ask that you clearly communicate your efforts to ensure a stable individual market to consumers, companies and regulators.  Perhaps now more than ever, certainty is of the utmost importance.

As Commissioner, I will work with legislators, industry, and the public to achieve what is best for Colorado insurance consumers. I welcome any questions or concerns you have about Colorado’s health insurance market.  

Sincerely,
Marguerite Salazar
Insurance Commissioner

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The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) regulates the insurance industry and assists consumers and other stakeholders with insurance issues.  Visit dora.colorado.gov/insurance for more information or call 303-894-7499 / toll free 800-930-3745

DORA is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit dora.colorado.gov for more information or call 303-894-7855 / toll free 1-800-886-7675

 


Media Contact:
Vincent Plymell
Division of Insurance
p: 303-894-2261 | c: 303-910-9614