Legislature considers raising fees on employer health plans to stabilize individual market

By Ed Sealover (April 20th, 2018)

Colorado’s individual health-insurance market is failing, with average premiums rising 20 percent in 2017 and another 27 percent this year.

As such, a bill moving through the Colorado Legislature asks this question: Is it fair to ask some 2 million people in this state to pay between 2 and 8 percent more for their insurance premiums next year in order to stabilize the individual market for roughly 140,000 people who face the prospect of even more skyrocketing costs without some kind of help?

The proposal, from Democratic Rep. Chris Kennedy of Lakewood and Republican Rep. Bob Rankin of Carbondale, would establish a reinsurance program that, in many ways, offers insurance to health insurers who have taken the sickest and most expensive patients into individual plans since the Affordable Care Act required all Americans to buy policies in 2014 and banned insurers from rejecting customers because of pre-existing conditions.

Reinsurance allows insurers to turn over to the state their highest claims once they exceed a certain cost, such as $25,000, and to have the state cover those bills until the claims reach $1 million. Doing so would reduce insurers’ risks and allow companies to bring down the overall costs of premiums between 10 and 25 percent as compared to what they otherwise would charge in 2019, Kennedy and interim Colorado Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway said.

Read Full Story at DenverBusinessJournal.com

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Bill would bank drone flights over wildfires

By Charles Ashby (April 19th, 2018)

DENVER — Drone users who fly their aerial craft over fires or emergency operations could find themselves facing misdemeanor charges under a bill that won preliminary approval in the Colorado House on Wednesday.

Reps. Polly Lawrence, R-Parker, and Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, said their measure, HB1314, is needed because when drone users fly those unmanned aerial vehicles over such events, they are only delaying important work in dealing with them.

Slurry aircraft have had to be grounded numerous times in recent years because drones have been getting in their way, the two lawmakers said.

“We want to make sure that nothing obstructs those air flight missions that are dropping slurry to help put those fires out,” Lawrence said. “This is a significant step to make sure that drone use by recreational users or professional users does not interfere with firefighting or emergency rescue operations.”

Fire departments, law enforcement and rescue workers increasingly have been using drone technology to help them in their efforts, but those flights are controlled and known by the personnel involved so as not to interfere with other operations.

An increasing number of people not involved in firefighting, law enforcement or rescue efforts, however, also have been flying them into such areas, causing problems. The U.S. Forest Service, for example, has started a new campaign called “If You Fly, We Can’t” to combat the dozens of incidents that agency deals with each fire season while fighting wildfires nationwide.

Under the bill, which still needs a final House vote before going to the Senate, anyone who obstructs a firefighter or emergency service worker with a drone could be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Read Full Story at GJSentinel.com

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