Officials in Colorado announced Monday that they will reduce the number of geographic divisions in the state's health insurance market, a move likely to soften premium increases next year.
The shift from 11 to nine geographic rating areas in Colorado means consolidating four rural risk pools into two for the 2015 enrollment season.
Colorado Commissioner of Insurance Marguerite Salazar thanked the Obama administration for approving the proposal, which state officials submitted less than two weeks ago.
"These larger rating areas spread the risk and costs of healthcare over a larger population," Salazar said in a statement. "This is the most equitable way of working toward stable premiums in all regions in the state."
The move highlights the power of state insurance commissioners in how premiums are determined. In addition to deciding rating areas, officials in many states have the power to veto insurer-proposed rate hikes.
Any considerable price increases on ObamaCare's exchanges will become a political weapon for Republicans as the midterm campaign cycle heats up. In Colorado, Sen. Mark UdallMark UdallElection autopsy: Latinos favored Clinton more than exit polls showed Live coverage: Tillerson's hearing for State The rise and possible fall of the ‘Card’ in politics MORE (D) is facing a challenge from Republican congressman and frequent ObamaCare critic Cory GardnerCory GardnerThe Hill's 12:30 Report Schumer: GOP plan to make Warren the face of Dems 'not going to work' A guide to the committees: Senate MORE.
Insurers serving the state now have until June 6 to submit their premiums, an extension from the original deadline of May 15. Companies will need to calculate new prices based on adjustments to the rating areas.