By Gena Akers Valley Voices (San Luis Valley Health.org)
The math is simple. Our country has a budget deficit because we spend more than we have. The same applies personally: you can't spend your problems away with credit cards. You have to be accountable to yourself.
Now, we need to be accountable to our nation so our nation doesn't fail us.
This week, just about everyone who is anyone in health care policy in Colorado is hanging out at the Colorado Health Foundation's annual symposium in Keystone. One patient we hope they take some time to examine is General Fund, who is in poor health these days.
The future of national health care reform under the Affordable Care Act may hinge on a single provision in the new law. The individual mandate, or the "minimum essential coverage provision," requires most uninsured Americans to purchase health coverage or pay a tax penalty. The big question is whether the individual mandate is constitutional.
Many people don't realize that the budget proposal put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in April, is the also the most significant piece of health care legislation since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Even though the Ryan budget plan as now constructed is not likely to become law, it represents an official alternative and warrants real debate. Most of the conversation has centered on changes to Medicare, but the impact on other federal health care programs and the Affordable Care Act itself are even more profound.
This bill represents a significant opportunity loss for Colorado. Should legislation for an interstate compact pass in the Colorado General Assembly, and then be approved by both houses of Congress, the state would no longer receive the benefits resulting from the national health care reform law. The passage of House Bill 1273 would do nothing tangible to reduce the number of uninsured or underinsured in Colorado, improve health care outcomes, better manage premium or health care costs, implement insurance market reforms or provide other potential benefits of the national law.
Improving health care in Colorado will require us to find ways to hold down costs while making sure more people have health insurance. Amendment 63 will do neither. In fact, it will do the opposite.
Amendment 63 is a sweeping and costly initiative that simply does not belong in our state's constitution. It will move Colorado to a less protected, more haphazard health care system where people pay directly for services rather than having health insurance.
Just as we are beginning to see the benefits of federal health care reform – seniors getting help to bridge the gap in Medicare's prescription drug coverage, young adults staying on their parents' health insurance plans and small businesses receiving tax credits to provide health coverage – Coloradans are faced with an attempt to take them away.
This flyer distributed at the Health Care Day of Action event at the state Capitol summarizes issues Colorado residents and employers face in paying the growing costs of health care coverage. It also lists the sponsors of the event and has a cartoon depicting the health care coverage crisis.