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Dem-Led States’ Public Health Care Efforts Are Falling Apart. Here’s Why

Colorado, Nevada and Washington are still struggling to provide cheaper health care to their residents after passing laws mandating public health insurance options, according to Politico.

The Democratic-run states previously introduced laws that used the state’s regulatory authority to require insurers to drastically lower costs while providing public options in order to expand health insurance access, Politico reported. However, rising medical costs have stymied enrollment in government-run health plans that Colorado, Nevada and Washington forced private health insurers to offer to residents.

After receiving a federal waiver to implement its health care plan, Colorado forced health insurers to offer public health insurance plans in 2022 and also required insurance companies to reduce premiums by 5% each year, slash out-of-pocket costs and offer a list of health care providers that is “culturally responsive,” among other benefits, according to Politico. Only one insurance company out of eight was able to meet the state’s premium reduction targets as they were unable to sufficiently cut costs.

Nevada health officials will meet Tuesday to debate whether they should reduce the health care premium reduction targets from 20% to 16% over the next four years in order to mitigate a recent rise in medical costs, according to a Nevada Health and Human Services document. Republican Gov.-elect Joe Lombardo previously criticized the plan, which was passed by Democratic lawmakers in 2021, but has not stated whether he will prioritize getting rid of the law.

Although nearly 300,000 people in Nevada do not have health insurance, the state’s health plan will only insure about 8,500 extra people by 2029, if the state is able to use the money raised from premium decreases to bring down the costs of plans, according to a state analysis.

In Washington state, which passed its public option mandate in 2019, almost 240,000 people signed up for individual policies through the state’s health insurance initiative, but only about 7,000 of them chose public option plans for 2022, according to Politico. Health officials also assert that public option plans are still too expensive even though the government provides subsidies for low-income residents.

Washington is implementing a rule that will force hospitals to contract with at least one public option insurance carrier in counties where is no public option; however, hospitals fear that this will weaken their ability to negotiate prices with providers.

The offices of Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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