Club 20 looks for middle ground on health issue

If the United States is to have a government-sponsored health-care plan, it should not compete with private insurance plans, Club 20 urged Friday in its fall meeting.

The resolution “does not say we support” a public option for health insurance as proposed by President Obama, said Steve ErkenBrack,  chairman of the Western Slope lobbying and promotional organization’s health-care subcommittee. He also is president of Grand Junction-based Rocky Mountain Health Plans.

The Club 20 board opted not to directly oppose what supporters have termed a public option, keeping the group in position to have as much influence as possible over the health care reform debate.

The issue is now before Congress, and U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., has said he would support a public option if it emerges in the final bill, but he made no other qualifications. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, both Colorado Democrats, have voiced support for health care reform.

Club 20 is continuing its fall meeting today at Two Rivers Convention Center.

The health care resolution approved by the organization also opposes any plan that would undercompensate health care providers, increase cost-shifting or compete unfairly with private insurers.

Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis cast the only opposing vote, saying that the county “opposes all proposals for a public plan, period. We should look for a fix within confines of what we have now.”

Club 20 also indirectly opposed so-called card-check legislation by supporting the state’s Labor Peace Act and provisions such as the right of workers to cast secret ballots in unionization elections and protecting the rights of employees to organize.

The organization supported the exemption of hydraulic fracturing from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Also, Club 20 opposed federal measures to establish a cap-and-trade program for carbon-dioxide emissions. Such legislation could more than double the cost of electricity and lower household disposable income by as much as $1,800 a year, as well as threaten the region’s coal industry, the organization said.

Gov. Bill Ritter is to deliver the keynote speech to the organization today.

The meeting begins at 8 a.m. with a legislative update and is open to the public.

Interested people may register at the main entrance of the convention center.

For the complete agenda of today’s events, go to


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