Nearly 1.1 million Coloradans spend more than 10% of their income on health care. We need a universal, single-payer healthcare system.
Thankfully, in 2010, the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law. This is an unprecedented opportunity to improve the health of all Coloradans. By expanding access, improving quality and containing costs, this comprehensive health care bill has the potential to dramatically enhance the way Americans receive and pay for health care. Although federally legislated, individual states will take the lead role in implementing the policy and programmatic changes necessary to achieve the Affordable Care Act's ultimate goal -- improved health outcomes for every citizen.
Some of the key benefits are:
*Small businesses can receive tax credits to help provide health insurance to employees.
*Youth can stay on parents' plans to age 26.
*Insurance companies are banned from canceling policies when you get sick or canceling lifetime limits.
*Insurance companies are banned from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.
*Seniors can receive a $250 rebate to close the "donut hole" gap in prescription drug coverage.
*Community Health Centers have received increased funding to expand access to the uninsured.
In addition, right now, many citizens receive health care in the form of a visit to the emergency room. This is the least efficient and most expensive way to provide healthcare which is passed on to Colorado taxpayers. The Affordable Care Act seeks to reduce the cost-shift of uninsured and public payer underpayments to the private sector, i.e., to employers through higher health care prices and premiums. It has been estimated that Colorado families pay an additional $1,100 in premium costs and individual insurance premiums are $380 higher due to cost-shifting.
In Colorado, one of our first great steps towards implementing the Affordable Care Act is with the creation cam with the bi-partisan bill in 2011 to create the Colorado Health Insurance Exchange. This will provide a new marketplace for individuals and small employers to shop for and enroll in both public and private health insurance coverage, thus making it easier and cheaper to purchase insurance.