Colorado Democrat Pushes Obamacare Waiver For Constituents In Mountain Resort District

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Democratic Congressman Jared Polis is planning to request an individual exemption from Obamacare for affluent residents of the ski resort communities that comprise his legislative district in Colorado.

Polis, who until recently has been a firm supporter of Obamacare, told Health Policy Solutions Wednesday that even wealthy families in cities like Keystone, Breckenridge and Aspen (although Aspen lies just beyond his district) are experiencing sticker shock as their existing insurance policies increase in cost – or are canceled outright – under Obamacare.

“We will be encouraging a waiver,” he said. “It will be difficult for Summit County residents to become insured. For the vast majority, it’s too high a price to pay.”

The HPS story that quotes Polis also focuses on the reactions residents have when they see, for the first time, what they’re being asked to pay for health care through Colorado’s State-run Obamacare exchange.

From the story:

“People take one look at the rates and they walk out the door,” said Tamara Drangstveit, executive director of the Family and Intercultural Resource Center, the group that is leading efforts in Summit County to enroll people in new plans that start on Jan. 1 through Colorado’s health exchange.

… Health coverage guides have worked with some clients for up to 90 minutes and walked them through the entire enrollment process only to have them suffer sticker shock and bail when it came time to pick a plan.

“They literally are walking out the door,” Drangstveit said.

Asked how many have purchased plans so far, she said: “Nobody. Zero.”

Polis has requested answers from the State insurance commissioner about why people in his district are being asked to pay, in typical scenarios, nearly double what their distant neighbors in the Denver area are paying for health insurance.

“For example,” he wrote, “a 40-year-old individual in Summit County purchasing a bronze-level plan from the Rocky Mountain Health Plans Statewide PPO would pay a minimum of $427.80 a month – compared to $339.18 in Boulder and $296.41 in Denver for the same plan. This discrepancy between counties is repeated for plans on and off the state health exchange, and at bronze, silver, gold, and platinum levels.

“I respectfully request that DOI provide my office with a thorough explanation for these price differentials.”

Polis is preparing to request that Summit County be reclassified under the insurance rating schedule established for neighboring counties to the west, where the cost of living is not as high.

Great – so who’s going to pick up the difference in cost if his constituents do manage to get reclassified? Other Coloradans, as well as other Americans who subject themselves to the 2014 Obamacare enforcement process known as “tax season.”

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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