State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail) and State Rep. Dylan Roberts (D-Eagle) are co-sponsoring a bill that outlines a public health insurance pilot program aimed at lowering costs and providing more options for consumers in rural and mountain communities.

The “Address High-cost Health Insurance Pilot Program” bill, SB19 – 004, intends to pilot a public option insurance program offered by the state government.

The Colorado Division of Insurance reports that some of the highest premiums are in the Western Slope region at more than $700 without a tax credit.

The legislation would grant residents of Eagle and Garfield counties earning between 400 and 500 percent of the poverty line, an insurance plan through the state government at competitive rates.

Although costs are higher in some regions, individual market insurance prices across the state increased by 76 percent from 2014 to 2018.

“We’re trying to put more competition in the market so everybody’s plans start lower in cost,” said Roberts, in an interview with Denver’s Channel 7.

Additionally, the proposed pilot program would provide data for a report, mandated in a separate bill, on how to develop and implement a state-wide, public insurance option as a lower cost alternative.

The bill, called the Proposal For Affordable Health Coverage Option (HB19 – 1004, would also address changes in state law and the submission of federal waivers needed to implement a public option for health coverage.

This measure moved along in the legislative process today, as it advanced in House Appropriations by a 10 to 1 margin.

If both the Senate bill and House bill become law, Colorado could be on its way to being the first state in the country to offer a state-run option for health insurance.