Colorado Republicans give up on repealing state exchange because “we’re still waiting on the new circumstances”

“We thought we could make the case that the exchange was no longer necessary due to the new circumstances in D.C., and we’re still waiting on the new circumstances in D.C.”

District 2 Senator and Senate President Kevin Grantham. The first day of the Colorado state legislative session. Jan 11, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Republicans in the state Senate set aside a bill Monday that had been one of their top priorities this session: a repeal of Colorado’s health care exchange, Connect for Health Colorado.

This bill was not going to pass the Democratic-controlled House, but the lack of clear action on health care at the federal level made it hard to make the case for state action either, Senate President Kevin Grantham said Monday morning.

“What’s happened is a little bit less action on the national level,” he said. “We thought we could get our federal partners to move a little bit more quickly. We thought we could make the case that the exchange was no longer necessary due to the new circumstances in D.C., and we’re still waiting on the new circumstances in D.C.”

The first effort by Congressional Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act ended without a vote, and while a bill did pass the U.S. House last week, most observers expect the Senate to substantially rewrite the bill. And it’s not clear that the Senate version will be acceptable to more conservative members of the House and so it goes, on and on.

Way back in February, state Sen. Jim Smallwood, a Parker Republican, argued that his bill was not so high-stakes because the federal exchange still exists. The state exchange just duplicates something that’s already being done elsewhere and isn’t a good use of resources.

Democrats in turn argued that Colorado’s exchange could serve as a backstop if the federal exchange went away, but it remains unclear how much good it will do consumers if federal subsidies for health insurance go away.

On Monday, the Colorado Senate laid over SB 3 until Thursday, which is the day after the session ends.

There’s always 2018.

Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, emeltzer@denverite.com or @meltzere.