Roberts: We’re making real legislative progress on access to health care (column)
Thirty days down, 90 days to go. We are one month into the 2019 Colorado legislative session and what a month it has been. Here is an update on what has happened thus far and what is yet to come.
On January 4, I had the humbling honor of being sworn into my second term as the State Representative for House District 26: Eagle County and Routt County. On January 8, Jared Polis took the oath to become our state’s 43rd Governor. There is a lot of change at the Capitol in Denver — a new governor, new and diverse majorities in the state legislature, and dozens upon dozens of bills. I am pleased to share with you that I have already made significant progress on my biggest priority: access to health care and addressing the rising cost of health insurance.
The first bill I introduced was House Bill No. 4. This is a bill that when passed, will set in place a process for developing and putting into place a public health insurance option. A public health insurance option will bring competition to the very limited market, especially in the mountains, and give you an affordable choice. Nobody will be forced onto the plan and it will not raise taxes. It will, however, bring an affordable option to the market using already-existing state and federal infrastructure and provide more individuals and families with the chance to have the security and coverage of health insurance.
I am pleased to have Republican Rep. March Catlin of Montrose as my co-prime sponsor and Senator Kerry Donovan of Vail as our Senate sponsor. This bill has already passed the House Health & Insurance Committee with a bipartisan vote of 9-2 and will soon be voted on by the entire House before heading to the Senate.
Another bill of mine, HB1077, has already passed the full House — unanimously. This bill is named “Kevin’s Law” in honor of Kevin Houdeshell, a young man who had Type 1 Diabetes and died because he could not get access to insulin. Five years ago, his prescription had run out and he could not get it renewed over the holidays. If Kevin’s Law is adopted in Colorado, pharmacists will be able to dispense medication in cases of emergency without a prescription. After a 64-0 vote in the House, this life-saving bill is on to the Senate and we are hopeful Governor Polis will sign it into law soon.
I have also introduced legislation to protect our clean water from mining spills, the Youth Suicide Prevention Act, a pilot program to address the high cost of health insurance in the mountain region, and several other bills.
As we move into February, the General Assembly as a whole will be debating a variety of bills related to education funding (including Governor Polis’ proposal for full-day kindergarten), prescription drug costs, climate change, gun safety, oil and gas laws, and much more.
I invite you to contact me anytime if you have questions, concerns, or ideas. I have already held my first town hall of the year in Avon and have upcoming town hall meetings that are free and open to the public: Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Eagle County Building in Eagle from 10:30 a.m.-noon, Saturday March 23 at the Basalt Library from 10:30 a.m.-noon, and Saturday, March 2 at the Gypsum Library from 3:30-5 p.m. Stay tuned for more as the session continues.
Thank you for the privilege to serve.
Dylan Roberts represents Colorado House District 26, encompassing Eagle and Routt counties. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 970-846-3054.