Denver physician touts Grand Junction model for care

The health care law that will go into effect in January isn’t the last word on health insurance.

“This is Beta 1.0,” Jay Want, a Denver physician and health care analyst, said of the Affordable Care Act, whose individual mandate to purchase health insurance goes into effect on Jan. 1.

The law will be changed in coming years to meet changing needs, Want said, noting that improvements will be the outgrowth of cooperation among people who otherwise would be unable to deal with one another.

“The left wing needs to step up and say it’s not all perfect and the right has to stop thinking that there is nothing good in it,” Want said in an interview before he spoke to about 200 people gathered at the fall meeting of Club 20 at Two Rivers Convention Center.

Grand Junction could well be the template for improving the Affordable Care Act, Want said, citing the record of various organizations and individuals working together to put together the “Grand Junction Model” in which nonprofit organizations, physicians, insurers and hospitals work together to provide care for Grand Valley residents.

“The perception is that this is one big, happy family” in Grand Junction, Want said, noting that the same kinds of disagreements exist in the region as they do elsewhere.

A key difference is that “There is no expectation that anyone from outside will fix the problems,” Want said.

That’s forced Grand Valley residents to work together and changes to the national health care laws will likely have to reflect local conditions and allow local autonomy within a national framework.

The nation’s economic future could be at stake, Want said.

“India and China must be laughing,” he said. “They’re happy to see us so self-indulgent and self-absorbed” as they build economic powerhouses to overtake the United States. “And I don’t want to see that.”


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