NU Online News Service, Nov. 19, 2:03 p.m. – Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, has signed a bill that could create a new pilot program for state employees who belong to health maintenance organizations that have been hit with rate increases of 40% or more for 2002.

The bill, House Bill 1034B, calls for the state personnel director to try to solicit bids for the program from preferred provider organizations as well as HMOs, according to the bill text.

If state officials can set up the pilot program quickly enough, it would begin covering employees March 1, 2002.

The lead sponsor of the bill was Rep. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, Colo.

The text of the available is available on the Web, at