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Senate Health Care Bill Could Have Big Impact On Colorado

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) - The health care bill released by Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate could have a big impact in Colorado, where a quarter of the state is covered by Medicaid.

Senate Lawmakers Address The Media After Their Weekly Policy Luncheons
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) (C) with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) (L), Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) (R) at the U.S. Capitol June 20, 2017 in Washington. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The non-partisan Colorado Health Institute estimates the bill would cut $15 billion in Medicaid reimbursement in Colorado and eliminate coverage for nearly $630,000 Coloradans.

Analysts say it would also impact coverage for the 104,000 low income Coloradans who receive tax subsidies for insurance.

"Fewer people would be able to get tax credits under this bill than Obamacare and the credits themselves would be worth less," says Joe Hanel with C.H.I.

He says the state will likely not be impacted, however, by waivers in the bill that allow states to opt out of some of the required services in Obamacare. Our state law already requires coverage for many of those services like maternity coverage, mental health parity and uni-sex insurance pricing.

(credit: CBS)

Opponents of the bill gathered outside the office of Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner and urged him to vote against it. Roberta Mantione's daughter has an auto-immune disease and was part of the Medicaid expansion.

"She's vulnerable to everything. She catches everything possible. If Medicaid goes away, I'm afraid of losing her," she said.

Joan Hemm receives tax subsidies to help her buy insurance on the state exchange, "I'm afraid that under the proposed bill I will lose the tax credits. I will not be able to afford insurance."

Some of the cuts to Medicaid would be used to offset tax cuts for people making more than $250-thousand, which is less than 3% of the people living in Colorado.

Hanel says the bill -- like Obamacare -- fails to address the underlying problem with our health care system, it's too expensive.

"We've all been arguing about who's picking up the check and nobody's asking why's the bill so steep?"

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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