Paul Hebert: The human toll
October 31, 2016
The Steamboat Pilot's opposition to Amendment 69, ColoradoCare (Amendment 69 — Too Big, Too Risky, Oct. 26), was all about the imagined disasters that might befall us if we pass Amendment 69 in November. Noticeably absent from their editorial, however, was any mention of the awful human costs of our current mess.
We know the statistics. They are not meaningless numbers — 350,000 Coloradans uninsured, 700,000 so underinsured that their insurance is meaningless, 14,000 medical bankruptcies a year — all our fellow Coloradans.
They have faces and names; they are our family, friends, neighbors, relatives. About 500 of them will die annually from underinsurance or no insurance. Furthermore, insurance companies do not like to pay medical claims. They describe them in their shareholder reports as "medical losses," because they reduce shareholder profits.
With ColoradoCare, all of these nightmares would go away.
The Steamboat Pilot showed no acknowledgement or concern for this cost, except a vague reference to how health reform should be done nationally rather than starting in a state. There is no problem starting with a state. The Canadian province of Saskatchewan successfully broke from private insurance in 1962, and the rest of Canada followed it into universal care.
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Several other states are now preparing or voting on legislation to break away from private insurance companies and offer universal health care to their citizens through taxation. These include Washington (voting on Nov. 8), Pennsylvania, Oregon, New York and Massachusetts.
If Colorado does not lead this movement by being the first state, eventually another state will lead and others will follow. While polls show that American's overwhelmingly want a national single-payer system, our national politicians are not responding.
The Affordable Care Act encourages states to apply for exemptions to the ACA in 2017 by offering innovative health care solutions. ColoradoCare and Washington state have taken up this invitation.
Let's vote “yes” on Amendment 69.