Obamacare protections will still cover Coloradans
The Trump administration shook the health care world last week when the Department of Justice announced that it will no longer defend in court key protections of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The announcement — coming in a case brought by Republican leaders in 20 states (but not Colorado) — could mean the end of insurance protections for people across the country with pre-existing conditions or high-cost medical needs.
The states argue that those rules are unconstitutional, especially in light of a vote in Congress last year to slash to zero dollars the penalty for not having health insurance, essentially rendering meaningless the mandate that all people be covered.
But, even if bans on preexisting conditions return under federal law, Colorado’s insurance commissioner is confident that the state’s residents will be protected. That’s because Colorado lawmakers in 2013 — when the ACA was being implemented — passed a bill that enshrines ACA protections in state law, as well.
“Regardless of how the Justice Department or the Trump administration attempt to change the Affordable Care Act, the Division of Insurance will continue to enforce Colorado law and maintain this important protection for our citizens,” interim Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway said this week in a statement.
As a result of the 2013 bill — which legislators at the time called an “alignment” bill — state law prohibits health insurers from charging people more based on their health status. It also requires that health insurers offer policies to anyone, regardless of whether they have pre-existing conditions.
If courts rule those protections are unconstitutional in federal law, that could potentially open the door for a lawsuit seeking to strike down Colorado’s rules, as well. But Conway said the current lawsuit from GOP leaders across the country deals with Congress’s authority, not states’, meaning the arguments wouldn’t be the same.
“We won’t be turning back the clock,” Conway said.