Vail Daily column: Statewide Health Care Principles Coalition working on solutions | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Statewide Health Care Principles Coalition working on solutions

As we turned our attention to the underpinnings of any policy that will ultimately be adopted, we found that choice and affordability, consumer protections, cost containment, the protection of our vulnerable populations and rural communities as well as ongoing innovation to be at the heart of the issues Congress must successfully address if we are to have a functioning health care framework that benefits all of us. These include:

1. Expand choice, affordability and competition in private markets, while maintaining consumer protections. Colorado and the country have seen historic gains in ensuring meaningful health coverage. Protecting those gains in coverage, as well as the corresponding benefits of improved access for consumers and sustainability for health care providers, is a priority.

Promote stability in the market in order to help control costs. Continuous coverage for everyone is key to an effective and stable insurance market. Encouraging people to get and stay covered will balance risk pools with healthier people and help to control costs. Because instability creates more costs, ensure any transition provides adequate time for carriers to implement changes and minimize impact to consumers.

3. Recognize that promoting access to care at the right time in the right setting by ensuring access to coverage has benefits for people, the health care system and our economy. It costs more to take care of the uninsured in the long term, since delay in seeking health care usually results in costing more than if the person accessed the system early. People without coverage are also unlikely to receive follow-up care as well as medications they need to stay healthy. Ensuring access to preventive care and integrated treatment services helps to keep people healthy and leads to early detection and treatment, which can improve the quality of health outcomes and save costs.

4. Don't adopt strategies that shift cost from the federal government to state budgets without sufficient and sustained federal funding or create an uneven playing field in the health care market. Health care markets and state budgets need certainty to function well and efficiently. Adhering to frameworks that require states to take on greater financial risk or larger portions of cost — without corresponding federal investment — will ultimately hurt states such as Colorado, which have unique constitutional budget constraints.

5. Protect the most vulnerable populations. Acknowledge the vital role that publicly funded programs play for many including children, seniors and people with disabilities who rely on long term care and services largely not provided by the private market. Ensure a strong health care market through stable funding and federal oversight of comprehensive, affordable coverage. Recognize that publically-funded programs are particularly important in rural communities where the payer mix is less robust and health care consumers and providers are more reliant on federal programs.

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6. Empower rural communities. Efficient delivery of health care is driven at the local level. One-size-fits-all approaches will exacerbate inefficiencies and inequities, further disadvantaging geographies that already struggle to find affordable, quality care.

7. Encourage health care transformation at the state and community levels with continued federal investment to lower the cost and improve quality of health care. Colorado has capitalized on opportunities to bring efficiencies and improvements to our health care system through collaboration in both private and public delivery systems particularly by focusing on the integration of behavioral and physical health care. This work can be either fostered or impeded through Congressional efforts. It is critical to promote such innovation, leveraging the resourcefulness of market competition.

We appreciate the opportunity to provide you with our best thinking on how we might proceed as a state and a country as we navigate the road before us. We hope to be an ongoing source of collaboration and partnership for your office and for Colorado's entire Congressional delegation.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.