Colo. House takes up health care exchange debate

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Republicans and Democrats are squaring off over an insurance proposal that GOP business allies support but others see as a move to embrace the federal health care law.

The Democratic Senate approved a bill that would set up a state exchange, allowing individuals and small businesses to pool together to seek lower health care premiums. Supporters argue states that don’t set up exchanges will be assigned one by the federal government, so Colorado should act now to craft its own exchange.

On Tuesday, the bill is set to get its first hearing in the House.

Bill Lindsay, who was chairman of a health care study group that recommended Colorado set up its own exchanges, said it’s better for Colorado to come up with its own plan.

“It’s a Colorado solution to the questions and issues and it’s unique to Colorado,” he said.

Kim Green, a founding member of a tea party action group, said it’s simply a back door to federal health care, because it will be funded with federal money, and with federal money comes federal restrictions.

“They have a blank check to do what they want with it,” she said before the House Health & Environment Committee took up debate on the bill on Tuesday.

The bill sets up a Colorado health insurance exchange, which could allow individuals and small businesses to pool together for lower health insurance rates. The federal health care law requires states to set up health insurance exchanges by 2013, or the federal government will set up exchanges for them.

GOP Rep. Amy Stephens, co-sponsor of the legislation, said Colorado cannot wait for a federal court decision.

Colorado is among states suing the federal government over parts of the health care law, and the measure would not affect that lawsuit.