CO Health Reform Panel Recommends Employer Involvement Measures

November 26, 2007 ( - A panel studying health care reform in Colorado has issued a series of recommendations including mandating employers provide cafeteria-style, premium-only pre-tax plans for their employees.

According to the latest report from the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform, Colorado would create standards “that make it easier” to set up the Section 125 plans. The report did not detail specifically how the state’s standards would work.

Employers who do not offer health coverage would be required to refer their employees to the state coverage pool for coverage information. Employers would be asked to distribute information about the state program, help employees sign up for subsidies, and contribute toward coverage for an optional “Connector” for small businesses, according to the panel’s report.

Overall, the panel recommended that Coloradans be required to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty, according to a Denver Post report. It is also proposing the state expand eligibility for public health programs to a larger percentage of needy families.

The package, estimated to cost $1.1 billion, would cover all but 96,000 of the 792,000 uninsured people in Colorado, the news report said.

The commission – created by the legislature – solicited proposals from Coloradans and selected four, ranging from a free-market-based system to a single government health-care payer. The 27-member commission then crafted a fifth proposal of its own.

The panel’s full report is here .