Colorado currently has a universal health care system administered out of the emergency room. And companies like WellPoint aren’t doing much to prove that even if you have private health insurance you have any peace of mind.
So Gov. Ritter’s Blue Ribbon Commission is hard at work finding a better healthcare system for Colorado by 2010. The most difficult question facing the commission is the public/private mix in the equation of providing Coloradoans healthcare. But the type of plan that will likely win out is not the easiest to administer, but is the easiest to approve politically.
“At the state level, you can’t do health reform by beating up the other side,” says Marty Sellers, who helped Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney design a near-universal health care program when Romney was governor of MA. “Republicans support the subsidized purchase of private health insurance.”
Sellers is a healthcare consultant who helped design the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) plan, which has 96 percent coverage by putting a cap on premiums for people who don’t make a certain amount of money. It then creates a high-risk insurance pool to lower the premiums of people who might be uninsurable because of pre-existing health conditions. This ensures a more complex system of health insurance premiums based on income with various amounts of subsidisation.
Rocky White, who turned down a position on the Blue Ribbon Commission to promote his idea of “socialized funding”, may have the simplest idea. “White’s plan involves a tax increase that fills a pool of money controlled and distributed by a public agency. The money would pay private doctors and pharmacies for the care of every resident of the state.”
“Insurance companies are not in the business of providing quality, equitable health care,” White explained. “They’re in the business of making money. I said, ‘OK, let’s fix this once and for all.’ This establishes a single- payer system.”
That type of idea may be simple and easier to administer, but it would likely be too controversial and impossible to get the legislature to approve.