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Proposal for health care relief fails

A bipartisan measure to give people in rural Colorado financial help to cover high health insurance costs failed in a state Senate committee this week.

Republican and Democratic county commissioners from the Western Slope were among those testifying in support of the measure. Republican Sen. Don Coram of Montrose is one of the main sponsors of House Bill 1235.

“This is a band-aid I understand that. Frankly we’re in a dilemma because we don’t know what’s going to happen at the federal level on health care,” Coram said. “But I do know that in rural Colorado, especially in my area, we have been priced out of the market.”

Under the bill, people on the Western Slope, Eastern Plains, and southern Colorado would receive a stipend if more than 15 percent of their salary goes to pay health care premiums. To qualify, they would have to earn less than 500 percent of the federal poverty level. Republican Sen. Vicki Marble of Fort Collins voted against the bill.

“I can’t say that taking money from taxpayers to cover something that government caused is going to fix the problem,” she said.

Ultimately it was defeated along party lines in the Senate State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.