A bill introduced in the state Senate on Friday would repeal a measure from 2011 that established health care exchanges in Colorado if the controversial Democratic health care reform bill is found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. And Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, is the primary sponsor in the state House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 53 takes aim at Senate Bill 200, which was dubbed “Amycare” by its opponents last year after its sponsor, House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument, carried it in the House. It has become a central issue in the primary race between Stephens and Looper, in large part because the bill infuriated many grassroots Republicans who say “Amycare” implements the national Democratic measure, which many Republicans call “Obamacare.”
The national measure is called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and requires states to either establish health care exchanges of their own or be forced to adopt a national model.
Several states, including Colorado, sued the federal government, arguing the law is unconstitutional. It is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court in March.
Stephens dismissed SB 53 out of hand, and said it wouldn’t even make it to the floor of the Senate. She pointed out that it had been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood. Boyd was the Senate sponsor of the very health care exchange bill that Looper wants to repeal.
Last year, of the nine members of the Health and Human Services Committee, the five Democrats voted for the bill and the four Republicans opposed it on the floor of the Senate.
“This is pure political posturing,” Stephens said.
Though she didn’t directly accuse Looper of anything, she said, “I’m not surprised as to who in the House signed on.”
Stephens added that she has been endorsed in the primary by Attorney General John Suthers, who signed on to the multi-state lawsuit against “Obamacare.”
Looper, who voted against the bill last year, issued a statement on the bill, but didn’t mention Stephens or the primary. She wrote that SB 200 is the same thing as “Obamacare,” and should be taken off the books.
“This is another big government, Democrat solution that will bankrupt our state and nation,” Looper said.
“The federal government, not the State of Colorado, will have full authority over the exchange,” Looper wrote. “Total control of our health care will reside in Washington, D.C.”
Stephens has maintained that her bill did the exact opposite. She has said that creating a state exchange allowed Colorado to opt out of the federal exchange model that otherwise would have been forced onto the state.
But the state solution is no better than the federal one, said Republican Sen. Tim Neville, who is carrying SB 53 in the Senate.
“You have an 800-pound gorilla from the federal government, and a 200-pound gorilla in the state government, but you don’t want either one in your house,” said Neville.