Swalm focuses on health insurance

Posted 1/28/09

As the country explores health care reform, state Rep. Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial, is working on his own affordable health care and insurance plans …

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Swalm focuses on health insurance


As the country explores health care reform, state Rep. Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial, is working on his own affordable health care and insurance plans for small businesses and the uninsured.

Similar to last year, Swalm is working on a state House bill that would require small employers in the state to offer limited health care coverage to their employees.

House Bill 1143 establishes two limited health benefit plan options, each of which includes an annual cap on the total amount of benefits available to covered persons, and caps on the amount of benefits available for specified health care services provided during the plan year.

The bill doesn’t define in exact terms what the HMO plan would do, but does put a cap between $35,000 to $50,000 on annual benefits — which would cover the vast majority of claims, according to Swalm.

House Bill 1143 is aimed at low-income working people who simply can’t afford insurance.

“We’ve got to have an affordable plan that low-income working people can buy with the help of their employer,” Swalm said. “Limited-benefit plans have been looked upon as sort of disreputable. But the whole theory behind the bill is that some insurance is better than no insurance at all.”

Many uninsured individuals in the state are gainfully employed but are not offered an employer-sponsored health benefit plan or are unable to purchase affordable health care coverage in the health insurance market, according to the lawmaker and insurance salesman. Swalm’s Redstone Benefits Systems sells health insurance to small and medium-sized businesses.

Given the small group health benefit plans currently available in the market, many small-businesses owners in the state are unable to offer or contribute to the costs of employer-sponsored health benefit plans currently available in the market.

The large number of uninsured individuals in the state imposes a strain on the health care system and, in particular, hospital emergency departments that are obligated to treat patients, regardless of their ability to pay for the treatment.

Hospitals and other health care providers who treat the uninsured are faced with growing costs related to the uncompensated care provided to the uninsured.

Last year, Swalm’s similar bill that would have required insurance companies to offer a new category of limited-benefit insurance plans to the uninsured was killed in committee on a party-line vote. Annual caps for the plan would have been set at between $50,000 and $100,000.

Swalm also is working on another bill that would lower the age limit for giving blood donations from 18 to 16. This bill supports the health care system also, according to Swalm.

Bonfils Blood Bank estimates that an additional 3,000 donors would participate if the age limit was lowered.

Swalm, who donates blood regularly, was recently awarded by Bonfils Blood Bank for donating nearly 8 gallons.

In addition to working on health care, Swalm is developing a bill to encourage appropriate development near airports.

“The positive economic impact of aviation on the Colorado economy is enormous,” Swalm said in a written statement. “Unfortunately, airports are under constant threat of closure from incompatible residential encroachment and development.”

Swalm’s bill would require new residential developments to provide clearly written and prominent disclosures to buyers if the prospective home will be subjected to noise levels from nearby military or civilian airports.

Developers, Realtors or property owners would be obligated to provide the sound disclosure notice, in writing, at both the time of signing the sales contract and at closing. Similar notices would be required to be prominently displayed in any associated real estate sales office, according to Swalm.

The intent of the bill is to encourage the kind of appropriate development, such as industrial or commercial, that’s more compatible with the inevitable noise that comes with the presence of a nearby airport.

“It’s vital that we take steps to protect Colorado airports from the type of inappropriate residential development and encroachment that threatens both their existence and their ability to provide the countless good jobs that rely on aviation’s continued success.”


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