Bradford, Buescher clash over insurance mandates

Bernie Buescher, right and Laura Bradford debate for the Dist 55 seat

Requiring health insurance companies to cover young adults beyond when they move out of their parents’ homes would levy unfair costs on small businesses, Collbran Republican Laura Bradford said during a Club 20 debate Saturday.

“We cannot mandate (that) small companies be forced to pay for dependents when said dependent is being categorized and defined as somebody 25 years old,” she said.

“They should be out of college and working.”

Bradford told the story of how her daughter at age 20 was diagnosed with a “life-threatening,” autoimmune disease, leaving her family with debt it still is paying down.

“But that’s the way it was,” she said.

Bradford’s comments came after state Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, pressed his House District 55 opponent about why she attacked his support in 2006 for House Bill 1346, which would have expanded the definition of a dependent to cover people up to age 25.

Buescher defended the legislation, saying it also would have allowed insurance companies to charge additional fees to cover the costs of expanded coverage.

“I’m puzzled why that’s a problem,” he said.

During the bill’s final vote in the House on May 5, 2006, Grand Junction’s other state House member at the time, Rep. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, voted for the bill alongside Buescher. Then-Gov. Bill Owens vetoed the bill May 26.

Buescher also challenged Bradford during the debate to say whether insurance companies should be required to provide coverage for screening for preventable diseases, including breast and prostate cancer.

“Should they be required?” Bradford said. “If we had more insurance companies … insurance companies
would be able to offer those things at lower rates.”

Saturday’s session marked the second time the two House District 55 candidates met in debate. Their first formal debate was Friday.


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