Rep. Salazar sends health-care letter to Obama

John Salazar mug

President Obama would do well to refer to Grand Junction tonight during his health-care reform address to a joint session of Congress, said U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo.

In a letter to the president, Salazar urged Obama to use the health-care system in Grand Junction as a model for a national system aimed at providing universal coverage. Salazar last month promised a letter to the president after meeting with physicians and health-care-system officials in Grand Junction.

“Although our goal of providing quality, affordable health care for all Americans is clear, it must be done in a manner that does not disrupt the functioning, successful portions of the existing health care market,” Salazar wrote to Obama, adding he hoped “that either in whole or in part (the Grand Junction) system can serve as a model for national health care reform.”

Salazar would support a government-sponsored health-insurance option “if it’s the only way to pass reform,” he said last week during a teleconference with Western Slope residents.

Salazar promised the letter after he met with physicians and others at the Grand Junction headquarters of Rocky Mountain Health Plans. He also accompanied Obama to Grand Junction for a town hall meeting last month.

The health-care system in Grand Junction, headed by an independent physicians association and several nonprofits, has been able to provide care to the majority of the population for 30 years, Salazar wrote.

The Grand Junction medical community also has provided “a resourceful solution to the controversial discussion of end-of-life care” with Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado. The introduction of Hospice and Palliative Care has resulted in fewer deaths in hospitals and savings of $6,600 per enrollee compared to the national average, the letter said.

He cited as well the effort to establish a health-information exchange through a nonprofit provider, Quality Health Network, which Salazar said helped eliminate duplicative testing and procedures.

The health-insurance industry “is where reform needs to occur,” he wrote. “The insurance industry has become too focused on shareholders and has forgotten its primary mission: to help those in need find quality, affordable medical coverage.

“Our health care system, including providers, suppliers, payers and the government should work together to achieve universal access to coverage.”


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