Jim Sunderland: Better health care for all | SteamboatToday.com

Jim Sunderland: Better health care for all

The Yampa Valley Medical Center is a wonderful community asset. The Board of Trustees for Yampa Valley Medical Center’s decision to come out against Amendment 69 is based on concerns that ColoradoCare will negatively impact their ability to continue to deliver high quality medical care to the citizens of Routt County. Colorado Care disagrees.

Before retiring and moving to Colorado, I worked as a hospital social worker, completed a master’s degree in public administration with a health care emphasis and served for 16 years as the administrative director of a nonprofit Community Mental Health Center, which covered a five-county area in south-central Kansas. Time and again, my work included wrestling with the tremendous hardships caused by our current for-profit insurance system.

Our current for-profit insurance payment system is already unsustainable and taking a significant toll on the quality and availability of health care services in our community. The high costs of out-of-pocket medical care mean people are waiting longer and longer to seek medical care and start treatment.

Bankruptcies due to overwhelming medical bills are increasing with escalating insurance deductibles. Insurance companies have put into place many barriers to deny payment responsibility for essential medical care.

With double-digit insurance premium increases occurring annually, more of our personal funds and public tax dollars are going to for-profit insurance companies to pay shareholder dividends and the exorbitant salaries of their CEOs. These are dollars that not being reinvested in improvements to our medical care services.

ColoradoCare establishes a nonprofit insurance organization focused solely on improving the health of all Coloradans. ColoradoCare significantly reduces the amount we would pay for healthcare coverage. Yes, our state taxes would go up but overall most everyone would spend considerably less than they are now paying in premiums and out-of pocket expenses for insurance deductibles.

Right now in Colorado, we are spending $31.2 billion a year for health care services. ColoradoCare would produce savings of $4.5 billion or more each and every year and extend comprehensive health care services.

Under ColoradoCare, Routt County city and county governments and our school districts will save a combined total of $7.46 million in tax dollars annually. The Yampa Valley Medical Center would also experience significant savings each year in insuring their staff. All of these savings could be better spent for essential services in our community.

Colorado Care is focused on helping contain increasing medical care costs through prevention programs and removing financial obstacles to primary care and early treatment. It puts a premium on encouraging us to see a physician for regular check-ups and screenings that catch medical problems early, when health outcomes are more positive and the costs of treatment much less.

There is a better way to fund essential healthcare services. It is Colorado Care! Please join me in voting “yes” for Amendment 69.

Jim Sunderland, MSW, MPA

Routt County volunteer for ColoradoCare

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