Colorado Lawmakers Unveil Health Care Agenda

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Colorado Republican statelawmakers on Monday unveiled a series of bills that would take incrementalsteps toward increasing the affordability of health care without raising taxes,the Denver Rocky Mountain News reports. The measures would:

  • Create a low-cost benefit plan with basic health care coverage that would have a low monthly premium;

  • Allow individuals to purchase health insurance from other states;

  • Allow qualified nurse practitioners in rural areas to have greater authority in addressing basic patient health needs;

  • Allow Medicaid beneficiaries to voluntarily reduce their benefits in exchange for greater control over their accounts;

  • Urge Congress to pass legislation that would allow individual health coverage to receive the same tax incentives as corporate plans (Barge, DenverRocky Mountain News, 12/4); and

  • Provide $8.6 million to reduce the waiting list of about 4,000 residents for state-funded developmental disabilities services.

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State SenateMinority Leader Andy McElhany (R) said, "The message we're trying to sendhere is that even though we recognize there are some serious problems with ourhealth care system, we don't need to wreck the whole system that we have."

Response

The bills unveiled byRepublicans "fell far short of the comprehensive changes that have beenproposed by" the Colorado Blue Ribbon Commission onHealth Care Reformand were "immediately criticized by top Democrats," according to the Colorado Springs Gazette (Sealover, Colorado SpringsGazette, 12/4).

The commission reviewed five health care proposals and made recommendations forhealth system change that are similar to Massachusetts'health insurance law (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 11/21).

State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) said that Republicans should withholdtheir criticism of potential tax increases until the commission shares itsrecommendations with the state Legislature. Romanoff said, "It seems to meway too early to declare that process a failure."

Commission Chair Bill Lindsey (R) said that he does not "see muchdisagreement" between the commission's recommendations and the Republicanproposals, noting that many of the proposals are part of their recommendations,albeit the minor ones. "These proposals they are talking about are veryincremental and they are not going to move the ball very far," Lindseysaid (DenverRocky MountainNews, 12/4).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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