In 2016, Colorado voters overwhelmingly said "no" to socialized medicine by casting their ballots against Amendment 69. It was an easy vote — pay more, wait longer, receive less care? No, absolutely not. Fast forward to 2019 and the fight to save our health care system is back.
With little fanfare, legislators passed and Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 19-1004 this spring. The measure directs the Colorado Department of Health Care Finance and Policy (HCPF) and the Colorado Division of Insurance to develop a public option for health care.
As a result, HCPF and the Division of Insurance are hosting "stakeholder engagement" meetings across Colorado with the stated purpose of gathering input on health care and a public option. Their roadshow comes to Grand Junction and the Western Slope next week.
The premise? Let government provide health insurance and compete in the marketplace. Sounds good, right? What could be wrong with more "competition?" In this case, plenty. Consider Medicaid. Many physicians refuse to accept Medicaid beneficiaries. Those individuals have less access to care and worse outcomes than private insurance beneficiaries.
Here's the reality. The impacts of the public option, guised as "competition," yield the same result: fewer and fewer providers of private health insurance, rationing of health care services by politicians and bureaucrats, lower quality health care, and less access to cutting-edge services. In a nutshell: pay more, wait longer, receive less care.
To date, the road show for socialized medicine has hit Denver, Boulder, Greeley, Pueblo and Alamosa. Authors of the plan have barely publicized these meetings and haven't provided details on what the final plan might look like. However, the few clues that have been gleaned offer a bleak picture for Coloradans.
Consider the comments of Kim Bimestefer, Gov. Polis' director of the Department of Health Care Policy: "If you look at some of the opportunities that we can all look to, we have in some areas way too much access." In what services do we have too much access? Bimestefer specifically points to cancer and cardiac treatments.
Too much access to live-saving cancer treatments and cardiac care? No. That is not the problem with our health-care system. In fact, those cutting-edge treatments make America's health care the envy of the world. Rationing health-care services is not just a side-effect of the public option; it is the goal of its proponents.
Healthcare is a top concern for Coloradans — for good reason. As a wife, a mother and a county commissioner, I understand. Socialized medicine and government-run plans are not the answer. We want quality care and life-saving technology when our family members are sick. And we don't want to go bankrupt paying for it.
Taking time to understand the complexities of our health-care system and the unintended consequences of new proposals is critical to quality care and the survival of our health care system. I encourage everyone to engage in the debate and learn more.
Rose Pugliese is in her second term as a Mesa County commissioner.