Romer: Vail Valley Partnership focuses on policy, not politics (column)
The Vail Valley Partnership’s legislative strategy is to support policy proposals that fit our mission and oppose measures that detract from our goal of economic vitality. We use these broad criteria when determining positions on policy issues:
- Does the proposal enhance the broad competitive business environment?
- Does the proposal help maintain or enhance an environment conducive to business and a level playing field for businesses in the Vail Valley now and into the future?
- Does the proposal provide the opportunity for competitive business practices regardless of the size or age of a business?
Our legislative positions and advocacy efforts are about good public policy, not about politics. We support a variety of legislation at the state capital within those parameters.
Senate Bill 19-004 seeks to create a high-cost health insurance pilot program. The bill authorizes the state personnel director to explore the feasibility of offering and, if feasible, to develop and implement a one-year pilot program in a limited geographic region of the state affected by high health insurance premiums to provide access to individuals in that region to participate in the group medical benefit plans offered to state employees. The pilot program would be available in the portions of Eagle and Garfield counties that are within the service area of the state group benefit plans. They would be limited to a number of individuals whose household income is more than 400 percent but not more than 500 percent of the federal poverty line, and in the 2019-20 benefit plan year.
Healthcare costs have been increasingly recognized as an issue by the Vail Valley business community and this pilot program is available to a limited number of people to determine future viability.
House Bill 19-1004 is a proposal for affordable health coverage options. The bill requires the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing and the Division of Insurance in the Department of Regulatory Agencies (departments) to develop and submit a proposal to certain committees of the general assembly concerning the design, costs, benefits and implementation of a state option for health care coverage.
This bill does not recommend any specific solution, but rather charges the state to review and propose options; the Vail Valley Partnership may or may not support proposed options but certainly supports reviewing and discussing the correct role for the state in addressing healthcare and health insurance costs.
Our rationale for supporting these two bills? The partnership has actively supported innovative solutions to health care and high health insurance costs in the mountain region and has supported proposals that will provide for Association Health Plans, Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements, and a “yes, and” approach to addressing health insurance costs. We have even built an innovative preventative plan and cost-sharing program due to the lack of movement at the state level to meaningfully address high health insurance costs.
Without innovative private programs combined with state-led investments in health insurance solutions, our economy and ability to retain employees will suffer. Healthcare costs have been increasingly recognized as an issue by the Vail Valley business community.
High health insurance costs directly impact the economic climate for business in Eagle County and are a concern across the entire business community. We believe this legislation — and other state legislation currently being debated in Denver – has the opportunity to have a significant impact on the issue, leading to a benefit to our community.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com.