Colorado House Bill 1273, the Colorado Guaranteed Health Care Act, is scheduled for a hearing in the Business Affairs and Labor Committee on Wednesday. The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Kefalas, a Democrat from Fort Collins, is expected to meet with quite a bit of resistance, and may not get past the committee hearing this week. It calls for sweeping reform and would be an expensive endeavor in a year of tight budgets. There are lots of ideas for health care reform in Colorado right now. HB 1273 proposes to cover all Coloradans. This is in contrast to HB 1293, introduced last month, which would expand current state programs to offer health insurance to at least 100,000 currently uninsured Coloradans.
In reading through the text of HB 1273, I’m curious as to why the bill aims to establish single payer health insurance, but also maintain separation from the Colorado government. The bill proposes creating a “Colorado Health Care Authority” that would be a
body corporate and a political subdivision of the state, that shall not be an agency of state government, and that shall not be subject to administrative direction or control by any department, commission, board, bureau, or agency of the state.
I can see the validity of both sides of the prevailing arguments about health care reform. Maintaining private health insurance on one side, and single-payer, government run health care on the other side. But I can’t see the logistics of a program that aims to provide universal health care to everyone in Colorado, in a single-payer system, without government involvement. Perhaps HB 1273 is trying to address the concerns that people have when “government-run health care” is mentioned. I think that the public fears about government involvement in health care have diminished over the years, but there is still a widespread distrust of having the government actively running our health care delivery system. And by having the Colorado Health Care Authority be a separate entity from the Colorado government, perhaps it would appeal to more people. But I think it’s going to come up against the cold hard reality of finances. Without government administration, either on a state or federal level, I don’t think that any sort of single payer health care system can be successful. We can either have private health insurance (with government regulation but private administration), or we can have single-payer health insurance (like Medicare and Medicaid), but single payer health insurance without government administration seems like having one’s cake and eating it too.
I’m glad to see that the Colorado legislature is addressing health care reform. House bills 1273 and 1293 both generate discussion about what we can do to provide health insurance to the 800,000 people in Colorado who are without health insurance. I’m curious to see what the Committee response is to HB 1273 this week. I’m doubtful that it will get much traction in its current form, but perhaps it will add to the dialog that is going on at the capital, and ideas will be generated that will lead to solutions for uninsured Coloradans.