- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2015

DENVER—Nearly 200,000 insured Coloradans will lose their health-care plans next year under the state’s embattled Obamacare exchange, Connect for Health Colorado.

State insurance commissioner Marguerite Salazar touched off an outcry Friday by confirming to news outlets that health-care policies covering 190,000 people will be dropped in 2016 because they fail to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

Colorado Senate Majority Leader Bill Cadman called the action “a huge blow to another 190,000 Coloradans who will be forced out of their existing healthcare plans.”

A year ago, President Obama extended the deadline on policies that failed to meet Obamacare’s heightened coverage requirements, allowing policyholders to renew their old coverage through 2016, but Ms. Salazar decided that a one-year extension was enough, said her spokesman, Vincent Plymell.

“She gave people the extra year last year to continue these plans and just felt that it was time now. The ACA passed in 2010 and it’s time to move people to better coverage,” Mr. Plymell told Health News Colorado.

Those holding non-compliant health-care policies will have 90 days’ notice to switch plans, he said, but Republicans were nonetheless furious to learn of the cancellations.

Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado Republican, urged state officials to reconsider and allow the non-compliant policies to stay in effect for another year, pointing out that “Coloradans were promised by supporters of this healthcare law that if they liked their plans, they could keep their plans.”

“I am utterly appalled by this announcement. After all of the glitches, the increased costs and premiums, and the plan cancellations that Coloradans have already endured, the idea that the Division of Insurance would choose to cancel the healthcare plans of hundreds of thousands more people is unconscionable,” Mr. Gardner said in a statement.

More than 340,000 Coloradans have seen their policies cancelled since the glitch-ridden Obamacare rollout in 2013. The cancellations dogged Democrats in the 2014 election, contributing to the defeat of former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall by Mr. Gardner.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who won reelection in November, was consulted on the decision, Ms. Salazar told 9News in Denver.

The Democrat-led state House gave preliminary approval Friday to a bill for a comprehensive audit of Connect for Health Colorado. The Republican-controlled state Senate has already approved the bill, which follows a scathing limited audit released in December that faulted the exchange for sloppy financial controls and oversight.

Rep. Mike Coffman, Colorado Republican, said he has a personal stake in the issue: He signed up for health insurance on the state exchange and knows “firsthand how terrible the Obamacare coverage is.”

“President Obama lied to the American people when he said ‘if you like your plan you can keep your plan’ and now Colorado families are being forced to bear the burden of that lie,” Mr. Coffman told 9News.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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