Health care is sick, House candidates say
Both Eagle-Vail Republican Heather Lemon and Leadville Democrat Carl Miller
say mandates state lawmakers put in place several years to fix a different set of problems are running health insurance providers right out of the state.
“Affordable health care for this district is almost non-existent outside of the major employers,” says Lemon. “There are counties in Colorado that do not even have doctors.”
Miller lays much of the blame directly at the feet of the state government.
“Administration costs are driven up by too many rules and regulations and a lot of redundancy,” says Miller.
Over the past few years, health insurance costs have doubled in many areas of the state. Small businesses in rural Colorado have been hit especially hard.
“The health care system in Colorado needs a major overhaul,” says Lemon.
That overhaul would begin with tort reform – the kinds of lawsuits to which medical professionals are subjected. Lemon said some physicians are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in medical malpractice insurance. That, she says, has to stop, pointing out that those costs are passed along to patients.
“The mandates imposed by the Colorado Legislature, coupled with the need for further tort reform create a difficult climate to develop affordable health care,” says Lemon.
Miller says state mandates are another large piece of the puzzle. He says the state government requires insurance companies doing business in Colorado to offer policies that include all kinds of features, such as maternity coverage, whether you want them or not.
“We have to give employees and employers a choice,” says Miller. “We have a Cadillac plan. We need to be able to offer a Chevy plan to people who want it.”
Unnecessary regulations, tort reform and state mandates account for about 25 percent of health-care costs, Miller said.
Lemon says she has had more experience with the health insurance world than she wants or needs.
“Two years ago my family suffered a serious, near fatal auto accident,” she says. “One of my daughters broke her neck. My youngest daughter paralyzed her right arm.”
The one with the paralyzed arm, Kelly, is now a freshman at Battle Mountain High School. She’s slowly on her way to recovery, with the help of local friends and organizations who raised funds to pay for experimental treatments in Canada. Kelly’s treatment is ongoing.
“My continuing discussions with hospitals, surgeons, medical-device manufacturers and insurance companies gives me a very personal, in-depth understanding of these issues,” says Lemon. “Health care will be an area of concentration during my service in the Legislature.”