Opinion: Colorado Care offers Coloradans an alternative to “Obamacare”
Colorado voters will be asked in the 2016 election to decide if they hate “Obamacare” enough to support a plan that helps even more people than the Affordable Care Act (ACA) does. It’s an exciting proposition that will confirm whether the disdain many conservatives have for ACA is based upon opposition to healthcare access, or simply to President Obama himself.
With ACA, 15 million previously uninsured Americans now have health insurance, meaning that the rate of uninsured Americans has decreased by 35 percent. Minorities and young adults are better covered now than ever before, and routine healthcare is addressing issues before they become more serious and expensive. Statistics and personal success stories are proving that ACA is the biggest improvement in healthcare since Medicaid and Medicare were introduced 50 years ago.
After 55 failed attempts by Congressional Republicans and 30 by Senate Republicans to eliminate ACA without offering alternative solutions to address lack of access to medical treatment and increasing healthcare costs, the Republican Party has proven that mere opposition to President Obama is no way to rid ourselves of federal laws we don’t like.
As part of its monthly community presentations, League of Women Voters of Mesa County just hosted a discussion about Colorado Care with Colorado Senator Irene Aguilar as keynote speaker. Colorado Care would save Coloradans nearly $5 billion a year while insuring more of us and providing better healthcare than ACA does.
To those who will argue that Colorado Care is a government takeover of healthcare, Senator Aguilar, who also happens to be a doctor, joked that if five years in the Colorado legislature have taught her anything, it’s that we don’t want government in our healthcare.
Colorado Care is a single payer system, but that doesn’t mean the government has anything to do with it. The plan keeps healthcare decisions away from government bureaucrats and puts communities in control with locally elected leadership.
According to statistics Aguilar shared, 350 thousand Coloradans are uninsured, and 50 percent of Mesa County residents can’t afford their healthcare. Nationally, of the $2.8 trillion spent on healthcare, $190 billion is wasted on bureaucracy. Those numbers are all too high. Surely we can do better than this.
Federal law provides a way out of ACA requirements by providing waivers to states which offer affordable healthcare coverage to as many people as ACA does without increasing the federal budget, and that’s exactly what Colorado Care would do.
Volunteers in Mesa County and across Colorado are currently gathering signatures to bring Colorado Care to the voters on the 2016 ballot. One of those volunteers, who happens to be my mom, relayed a conversation she had with an elderly man whom she’d asked to sign the petition. He said he’d support access to healthcare for all Americans as soon as we “weed out the bad ones.”
No one ever suggests weeding out the “undesirable” old people to decide who gets healthcare. How can we possibly do it to our young people? Is there really any child who should be denied access to healthcare?
Of all of Aguilar’s comments, the one that struck me the most was her comparison of healthcare to fire and police services. No when is discriminated against when they call 911 because of their inability to pay for services. Why should healthcare be any different?
Aguilar’s presentation was just one of several thought-provoking and informative discussions provided by League of Women Voters of Mesa County every year. Upcoming presentations include the following and are all presented at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church:
Oct. 5, “Air Quality in Mesa County”
Nov. 9, “A Discussion on Human Trafficking: Does Slavery Still Exist?”
Dec. 14, Colorado Legislative Preview and Fall Potluck
More information about Colorado Care and the current status of healthcare in Colorado can be found online at ColoradoCareYES.co.
A fourth generation Coloradan, Free Press columnist Robyn Parker is the former host of the progressive community radio show, Grand Valley Live. She is a stay-at-home mom, active community volunteer and board member for local environmental and social justice organizations. Robyn may be reached at email@example.com.
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