Last week Republican lawmakers in Colorado unveiled their version of health care reform. It’s an attempt to make small fixes to the state’s ailing health care system without raising taxes or turning health care over to the government. The proposed reforms are far less substantial than the options being considered by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform, and were criticized by Democrats as being insignificant.
The proposed changes:
Create a low-cost benefit plan with basic health care coverage that would have a low monthly premium
I would be curious to see the plan specifics for the proposed policy. Would it be a limited benefit plan that doesn’t cover prescription drugs and has a low lifetime maximum benefit? Or would it be a high deductible, comprehensive policy that would truly provide a safety net in case of a serious medical problem?
Allow individuals to purchase health insurance from other states
Again, I’m curious about this one. Are we spreading the risk pool to the whole country – as a national health care plan would do – or are we sending people with pre-existing conditions to other states where coverage laws might not be as strict and limited benefit plans might not be regulated? It is frustrating for our clients when they move to Colorado from another state and find that they have to get new health insurance that follows a whole new set of laws. Given how transient the US population is, I support the idea of making health insurance more flexible on a nationwide basis, rather than having 50 different sets of laws, mandates, and policy options.
Allow qualified nurse practitioners in rural areas to have greater authority in addressing basic patient health needs.
This one has my full support. Nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants should be able to fully treat patients with basic health problems. These are highly trained health care providers, and enabling them to see more patients will reduce the overall cost of health care (NPs and PAs are less expensive than physicians).
Urge Congress to pass legislation that would allow individual health coverage to receive the same tax incentives as corporate plans
My concern here is one that has been echoed all over the country ever since the current administration began talking about using tax incentives for individual health insurance premiums. Colorado residents with little income pay little in taxes. If they cannot afford health insurance premiums now, it is unlikely that the small difference that a tax deduction would make would enable them to afford it. Tax deductions and incentives make a difference for high income people – those who pay the most in taxes. And yet that is not the population that truly needs help with health insurance premiums.
Provide $8.6 million to reduce the waiting list of about 4,000 residents for state-funded developmental disabilities services.
This sounds like a good plan, although I’m not familiar enough with the situation to know if $8.6 million is enough to solve the problem. Waiting lists should be for things like concert tickets and new hybrid cars – not treatment for developmental disabilities. And I question where the money will come from if the plan involves no tax increases.
Overall, there are some good ideas here, but I doubt that it will be enough to truly fix Colorado’s health care system. No state – including Colorado – is going to be able to provide affordable health care for all its citizens without raising taxes, and while still allowing health care and health insurance to function as free market entities with unlimited profits. Trying to do so is like putting a band-aid on a bleeding artery.