FILE - Colorado Hospitals

In this Thursday, March 9, 2017, photo, a patient heads into Denver Health Medical Center's primary care clinic located in a low-income neighborhood in southwest Denver.

(The Center Square) – Colorado’s third attempt to pass a public health care option could prove harmful for the state’s economy, according to a new report.

The report, by the free enterprise think tank Common Sense Institute (CSI), found that the plan could result in up to $1 billion less in payments to doctors, nurses, hospitals and other health care providers. As a result, between 3,900 to 4,900 health care jobs could be lost, the report estimated, including employment for doctors, nurses, and patient care professionals.

“While the newest version of the public option proposal has some updates, it does not avoid the economic impacts and unintended consequences of earlier proposals,” the report concluded.

House Bill 21-1232, also known as the Standardized Health Benefit Plan Colorado Option, would create the Colorado Option Authority, a quasi-governmental agency in charge of regulating the price of health care services in the state.

The authority would be governed by an advisory committee that would be responsible for developing, implementing, and operating the agency and the public option, according to the bill’s text. The committee would also be required to “represent the diversity of the state” and give special attention to low-income Coloradans and communities of color. 

HB21-1232 would also direct the private health care sector to reduce insurance coverage premiums. If a practitioner fails to comply, the bill empowers state health officials to “suspend, revoke or impose conditions on a health facility’s license or certificate of authority,” according to the bill.

One point of concern, according to CSI, is that the legislation doesn’t account for inflation. This omission could result in a government price mandate of 35% below the baseline premium level in 2024, the think tank said.

CSI’s report also offers a solution to lawmakers. Instead of passing the public option, state officials could shift $830 million to $1 billion in unpaid costs from the public option to consumers with employer-provided health insurance.