Senator Aguilar unveils her Colorado Health Care Cooperative bill at the state capitol today
A blueprint to provide “quality, affordable health care for all”
DENVER— Senator Irene Aguilar (D-Denver) unveiled her Colorado Health Care Cooperative bill during a press conference and rally at the state capitol today. The landmark legislation provides a path to ensure all Coloradans have heightened access, quality and choice in their personalized health care at a significant savings to individuals and the state.
“With the entrepreneurial spirit embedded in Coloradans we could start a publicly accountable, member-governed, user-friendly health care cooperative,” Sen. Aguilar said during the gathering. “The bill provides for development of an implementation blueprint. A Colorado Cooperative could further the goals of the exchange – quality, affordable health care for all.”
The bill authorizes the governor and the legislature to appoint a board that would employ a consultant to design the blueprint for The Colorado Health Care Cooperative. The Board’s 16-month planning process would be independently funded by grants and donations, and once approved, the implementation plan would be referred by the legislature for voters on the 2013 ballot.
The introduction of the Colorado Health Care Cooperative attracted an enthusiastic crowd to the state capitol and they were addressed by a diverse group of speakers, including the following:
Senator Irene Aguilar, MD, Senate District 32 in Denver
Dr. Cory Carroll, a primary care physician from Fort Collins
Representative John Kefalas, House District 52 in Fort Collins
Nathan Wilkes, a data networking consultant and father from Englewood
Dorothy Rupert, a former Representative (eight years) and Senator (six) from Boulder
Linda Shaw, a psychiatric nurse practitioner from Glenwood Springs
T.R. Reid, a journalist and author of The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better,
Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care; from Denver
Both Rep. Kefalas and former Rep. Rupert have carried bills aimed at paving the way for universal health care in Colorado in the past, and their presence was testament to a long and steadfast effort to tackle the escalating costs of health insurance and the subsequent inequities in access to health care by advocating for an affordable plan that covers all Coloradans.
“All the other industrialized democracies on earth provide health care for everybody,” Reid said. “Each country has its own system, but there's one point they all agree on: Everybody must be covered. Universal coverage reduces human suffering, saves lives –and saves money. Rich democracies with universal coverage spend, on average, about half what the US spends on health care. That's not a coincidence. If you provide health care for everybody, you'll spend less overall. That's true for all the world's developed democracies (except one), and it would be true for Colorado as well.”
This legislation would begin the process of establishing the Colorado Health Care Cooperative, a health care system that would be available to all Colorado residents as members, control costs, and increase choice. The bill offers a practical, resourceful, and farsighted resolution to escalating health care costs that leave too many Coloradans uninsured. The savings from this redesign will cover the cost of universal coverage while adding dental, vision, hearing, and comprehensive mental health benefits, with the savings returned to the members annually.
“As an Advanced Practice Nurse, I believe that body and mind cannot be separated in the individual, and should not be separated in accessibility to services, the affordability of services, the choice of services, the quality of services and financing the Integration of Health Promoting Services,” said Shaw. “By including mental health care coverage as a required element, the Colorado bill to authorize the planning of a Health Care Cooperative moves the State closer to the goal of promoting a healthy and productive population of people both in body and in mind.”
The Colorado Health Care Cooperative bill addresses problems and shortcomings in the current system and is timed to coincide with the full implementation of the national Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, offering Coloradans a proactive opportunity to responsibly resolve the pressing issues of making quality health care accessible and affordable for all. This bill would provide the implementation blueprint at no cost to taxpayers and put the decision to the voters.
The outpouring of support reflected in the crowd attending the event at the State Capitol was echoed in an equally persuasive demonstration of the backing the bill has already secured in the Senate and House. In addition to Senator Aguilar, the bill is sponsored by Senators Bob Bacon, Morgan Carroll, Joyce Foster, Angela Giron, Lucia Guzman, Rollie Heath, Michael Johnston, John Morse, Jeanne Nicholson, Pat Steadman, and Lois Tochtrop.
In the House, the bill is sponsored by Representatives John Kefalas, Lois Court, Rhonda Fields, Randy Fischer, Deb Gardner, Dicky Hullinghorst, Matt Jones, Daniel Kagan, Claire Levy, Beth McCann, Joe Miklosi, Sal Pace, Judy Solano, and Max Tyler.
“We need this opportunity to authorize the planning of a Health Care Cooperative, and to place the outcome of this plan to vote on the November 2013 ballot,” said Shaw.