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) – A newly released report by a Colorado policy think tank found that a public health coverage option for the state could restrict access to care and diminish the overall quality of care.

The Common Sense Policy Roundtable (CSPR), a Denver-based think tank, released a report on Thursday entitled “Modeling the Impacts of Government Price Controls in Health.” According to the report, a public health care option offers potential actuarial impacts that are negative and staggering.

Chris Brown, the roundtable’s director of policy and research, said in a statement that the creation of a public option is an untested model that could fail. 

“The bottom line, hospitals would be faced with a choice: Cut services and access to care and/or pass the costs of the Colorado option to the private plans that remain in the individual and employer-provided insurance markets,” Brown said. “Losses of this magnitude would have a major impact on the delivery of healthcare services in Colorado. However, the current conditions of the Colorado healthcare system are anything but normal right now.”

According to the report, five percent of the state's population would likely enroll in the Colorado option health plan by 2024, considering normal times. That's roughly 335,000 people. Of that number, 18,000 enrollees would join after being under or uninsured, and 89 percent of the participants would change from their private insurance to the Colorado option.

CSPR also noted that 4,800 health care workers could go unemployed because of high costs, and hospital systems would see revenue cuts growing from $536 million to $1.1 billion per annum for the first three years of the plan.

In the first year alone, the state could see a net loss of more than 6,400 jobs and a $619 million loss in income.

Health care costs, in general, will be overwhelming and those with private insurance may have to saddle up to five percent of hospital costs brought on by the potential financial strain for hospitals, according to the report.

Brown went on to argue that the abnormal times we living have changed how Colorado’s hospitals now operate. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, he noted, there will be severe financial losses among the various health care systems, including Centura Health and UC Health.

Members of the Colorado General Assembly recently tabled a so-called public option bill, The Denver Post reported, citing the challenges of the COVID-19 across the state and nation.

"Routt County and our state will have a Colorado Option soon, one that increases access to affordable healthcare for all Coloradans. But now is not the right time to debate this legislation," Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, a co-sponsor for the bill, wrote in an op-ed for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. 

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis has been a vocal advocate for public option health care coverage for much of the legislative session and since his election victory in 2018.