COLORADO: Coalition Calls For Universal Coverage By 2007
A coalition of doctors, business groups and lawmakers in Colorado wants to provide "at least bare bones" health coverage to the 600,000 uninsured Coloradans by 2007, the Denver Business Journal reports. Colorado Medical Society President Dr. Gary VanderArc, who is spearheading the effort, said the plan is "going to be universal and involve every segment of society." The Coalition for the Medically Underserved "has enlisted an impressive group of backers," the Business Journal notes, including: the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the Exempla hospital system, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente. While legislation to increase taxes or health care costs would likely have to be passed in order to implement the plan, the Business Journal reports the coalition has "a powerful argument" on its side: "At a time of low unemployment, businesses need all the healthy workers they can find -- and they need to keep current workers healthy." The coalition's plan is scheduled to be formally released in July.
More Is More
The coalition plans to expand the health care "safety net" by asking hospitals and health plans to devote as much as 3% of their budgets to clinics for the indigent "and then pass some of those costs along to people who can afford to pay." The plan also calls for giving incentives to retired doctors -- such as tax credits or reduced license fees and malpractice insurance -- to care for the indigent. Further, the plan would "[r]equire employers to provide health insurance coverage to all employees and their dependents," and tax credits would be provided to Coloradans who purchase their own insurance. Revenues gained from tobacco taxes would be used to pay for health care for the uninsured, and the plan would provide "affordable coverage" to the "near-poor" -- those most likely to fall through the cracks of Medicaid on the low end and employer-insurance on the high end. The coalition also advocates a method of spreading health care costs where healthy consumers pay more "to reduce premiums of sicker enrollees." Coalition member Dr. David Hutchinson said the group is not "advocating additional spending to care for the uninsured." Instead, he said the group is "simply reallocating existing funds to focus more on prevention." The coalition was formed by the Colorado Trust and Rose Community Foundation, two charitable foundations formed when hospitals switched from nonprofit to for-profit status (Austin, 5/18 issue).