05 May 2007

Healthcare plans in Rocky Mntn News

The Rocky Mountain News' editorial pages has been against single-payer financed healthcare. The News is generally considered the more conservative of Denver's two dailies — but also the paper that does more and better local reporting. It's doing good journalism in following Colorado's 208 Commission.

The 208 Commission, otherwise known as Colorado's Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform, was created by the Colorado legislature to advise the legislature on the best course forward in comprehensively reforming Colorado's healthcare system.

The commission put out a request for proposals for comprehensive reform, and they received 28, including one from Dr. Rocky White, a board member of Health Care for All Colorado. HCAC has endorsed that proposal, as has the Colorado Nurses Association.

The Rocky Mountain News ran summaries of four of the proposals in today's paper:
Club 20's,
HCAC's, and
the South Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce's.

My name appeared with the HCAC summary — fair enough, since I did write it, but I was fortunate to get a lot more editing help than I'm used to. From that description:
Everyone would be covered and be funded through individual and business contributions and federal tax dollars. The plan would offer better benefits, including mental health, dental, optical, home-health and long-term care, than any single private plan does today. Each resident would choose a health-care provider and choose a hospital.

Providers would stay in private practice and compete for business, but all payments would come out of a single health fund. Everyone (except for the very poorest Coloradans) would contribute to the fund. No one would need to fear bankruptcy because of health-care costs.

Colorado Health Services would basically be a publicly owned, not-for-profit insurance company, similar to a public utility. A board, accountable to the people, would manage the program. Administration would be under five regional boards.

Colorado Health Services would reduce administrative costs since everyone would be covered by the same comprehensive plan. Physicians and patients could make health-care decisions based on patient need and not insurance company policy. Doctors, hospitals and nurses would no longer need extra staff to negotiate billing with hundreds of companies and thousands of policies. The program would provide for retraining displaced workers.

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