Colorado has been the scene of an intense legislative battle regarding health insurance exchanges. As part of the Affordable Care Act, the provision has enemies among the Republican, most notably in the Tea Party sect. However, the many high ranking members of the Republican Party support exchanges, saying that it will benefit residents of the state more than hurt them. Despite this support, the bill that would make the exchange possible was in peril late Wednesday night.
Senate Bill 200 was originally proposed by Amy Stephens, the House Majority Leader. The legislation was widely supported amongst businesses in the state as well as insurers. In fact, the only real opponents of the bill came from the Tea Party, who disapproves of the overall health care reform imposed by the Obama administration. Until recently, Republicans have supported the bill throughout its legislative journey. But that support came to a surprising halt on Wednesday when the majority of Republicans failed to vote on Wednesday.
In a rare move, the Democrats came to the rescue of the bill, which passed with a 44-21 vote. Only 13 Republicans voted in favor of the legislation. Stephens, who has endured criticism for her sponsorship of the bill, was not surprised by the sudden shift in party support, saying that the precepts of the law were fundamentally sound and appealed to both sides equally.
The bill will continue to the Senate where a minor amendment will be added. Once the exchange is fully operational, residents of Colorado can expect to see lower insurance rates as new options become available.