Denver, CO – In an interview yesterday with Colorado Public Radio’s “Colorado Matters”Governor John Hickenlooper suggested that the state may bar Anthem, one of the last remaining insurers in the Colorado Health Exchange, from receiving lucrative state Medicaid contracts if the insurer withdraws from the state exchange.

Hickenlooper told CPR:

“We’ve certainly talked about that,” Hickenlooper said, “… as a way to try to provide motivation

[emphasis added] that more insurers cover all parts of the state — or at least a number of parts of the state.”

“Apparently, mob-style blackmail tactics are an acceptable way to conduct business if you’re the Governor,” commented Kelly Maher, Executive Director of Compass Colorado.  “Demanding a private company bail out the state health exchange, or face the consequences financially, is like government meets The Godfather.”

Governor Hickenlooper cites a recent announcement by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suggesting his state will demand participation from insurers in their exchange or face losing future contracts. Yet, fiercely western states like Colorado shouldn’t look to New York as the model for what would work as an approach here.

“If Obamacare and the exchanges are as great as the left continues to proclaim, then private companies should be tripping over themselves to participate. In a truly competitive system insurers don’t need blackmail to ‘provide motivation’ to participate,” continued Maher. “Governor Hickenlooper should refocus his energies on fixing the broken health care system so insurers want to actually participate over figurative leg breaking.”