For the second time, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. In its ruling in the appeal of King vs. Burwell, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that millions of Americans will continue to have access to the federal tax credits that have created affordable health insurance options for them.
It is important to realize that while millions around the country could have been greatly impacted by this decision, Colorado would have been largely shielded from any negative outcomes because the State of Colorado had the foresight to take the steps needed to provide for affordable options for health insurance coverage to its residents. Regardless of the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, the benefits of health care reform, including the tax credits aimed at providing affordable options for all Coloradoans, would have continued to be available in our state.
To date, nearly a half million Coloradoans have been able to gain health insurance coverage that they previously could not afford. The reforms to the Colorado health insurance marketplace and the expansion of Medicaid have reduced the rate of uninsured persons from 17% to 11%. In the United States, this is the 5th largest decrease in the rate of people who had not been able to obtain health insurance coverage.
How did this happen? Colorado has always had its own way of doing things. Our State leaders succeeded in not getting bogged down in partisan bickering. They recognized that they needed to do what’s best for the citizens of Colorado. That’s why when given the option to start a state-based exchange through the Affordable Care Act, Colorado had the foresight to create an independent health insurance marketplace.
Colorado’s leaders recognized an important fact about health insurance-it works. Uninsured people are sicker and more apt to die prematurely than their insured counterpart. Death risk appears to be 25 percent higher for people with certain chronic conditions who are not insured when compared to their insured counterparts. Uninsured families report medical bill problems at double or triple the rate of insured families and medical bills were found to be a contributing factor in a sixth or more of bankruptcies.
For all these reasons and more, it is essential that Colorado continues its successful health insurance marketplace. This includes the expanded additional coverage to working families and individuals who had previously been priced out of health insurance an unable to afford it for themselves and their families.
The reforms under the Affordable Care Act are important to the quality of life for many Americans. No matter what, your preexisting conditions cannot be held against you. No matter what, your child can stay on your insurance until he/she is 26 years old. And no matter what, we will continue to be a forward thinking state that places the success of its citizens above the sensationalism of a political story. While there is still work to be done to reach health equity for all of our citizens, Colorado residents have benefited from the foresight of its legislators in creating an independent health insurance marketplace and for expanding Medicaid.