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November 20, 2007 08:49 PM UTC

Health Care Thoughts and Blue Ribbons

  • by: Colorado Pols

From The Denver Business Journal:

The Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform on Monday approved the recommendations it will present to Colorado legislators next session — including a requirement that every Coloradan obtain health insurance coverage.

The commission also recommends providing subsidies to help low-income workers below 400 percent of the federal poverty level obtain coverage through their employers’ plans.

While the commission evaluated 23 comprehensive plans and hired a consulting firm to analyze five proposals, it borrowed heavily from its own proposal (the so-called “fifth proposal”) in crafting the recommendations.

According to a report from The Lewin Group, a Church Falls, Va.-based consulting firm, the fifth proposal would cover 87 percent of Colorado’s roughly 800,000 uninsured and cost the state about $1.1 billion a year.

An additional $1.2 billion would be paid through private spending — including those who obtain coverage because of the individual mandates.

The commission recommends requiring all health insurance carriers in the state to offer a minimum benefit plan in the individual market. Insurers also would be required to issue coverage to anyone who applies and is not eligible for the state-run CoverColorado program.


14 thoughts on “Health Care Thoughts and Blue Ribbons

  1. Note the two figures associated with the 5th Proposal (the recommendation of the 208 Commission).

    According to the article quoted:

    Coverage of uninsured will cost the state of Colorado an ADDITIONAL $1.1 billion.

    In round numbers, the state of Colorado’s total budget is about $17 billion — $7.9 billion comes from the federal government, $2.1 billion from cash funds (e.g., gaming taxes, mineral severance taxes, gasoline taxes) that are typically earmarked for some “special” purpose, and $7 billion from other taxes (income taxes, sales taxes).  Assuming the federal share and cash funds are relatively fixed, finding an additional $1.1 billion will likely require a significant a significant tax increase.

    Expansion of coverage (presumably Medicaid and SCHIP) will shift an additional $1.2 billion to those who are private payors or have their own health insurance coverage.

    As I understand the figures put together by the 208 Commission, private health insurance premiums in Colorado total about $12 billion, so this $1.2 billion cost shift would add an additional 10% to health insurance premiums on top of whatever additional taxes covered individuals would pay to cover the $1.1 billion cost to the state.

    The web site that describes the 5th proposal is here:


    1. Interesting thought, but it’s not on the table of what’s being considered or likely to be adopted.

      The 208 Commission considered a host of proposals (listed here)


      and settled on the 5th Proposal, which is likely what will be proposed to and debated at the legislature.  The 5th Proposal is described at this web site:


      When I read giverment proposal cost estimates, I always consider that givernment cost estimates are almost never accurate and almost always underestimate the cost of programs.  As you can see, the program being proposed will increase access to subsidized programs (Medicaid) which costs the state $$ and shifts costs to folks with private insurance, so you get to pay twice — once as a taxpayer and once through your insurance premiums.

      The 5th proposal has 28 components, so defined and some not so well defined:

      1. Require all legal residents of Colorado to have health insurance coverage with basic plan coverage
      2. Provide subsidies for low-income families and individuals (up to 400% of the federal poverty level) to purchase private insurance
      3. Reform the individual insurance market by including people with chronic conditions in the Cover Colorado programs
      4. Create a Coverage Clearinghouse administered by the government
      5. Require all employers to create 125 premium-only tax deferred/cafeteria plans
      6. Undocumented residents do not have to have insurance, but will continue to have coverage as indigents/Medicaid patients
      7. Create incentives for communities with good local solutions
      8. Restructure and expand Medicaid and CHP+ by raising CHP+ eligibility to 250% of federal poverty level and allowing people up to 450% of poverty level to buy into Medicaid
      9. Restructure Medicaid and CHP+ benefits
      10. Improve outreach and enrollment in Medicaid/CHP+ with fast-track enrollment
      11. Improve access to care in the Medicaid/CHP+ program
      12. Improve quality of care in the Medicaid program
      13. Increase Medicaid recipients’ enrollment in private coverage
      14. Allow/Require employers to offer 24-hour coverage to their employees
      15. Create an Optional Continuous Coverage Portable Plan
      16. Improve access to care for all Colorado residents
      17. Ensure that health care providers that serve low-income and rural populations have adequate funding
      18. Strengthen Colorado’s local public health infrastructure ($23 million more for public health programs)
      19. Increase use of health information technology
      20. Improve end-of-life care
      21. Improve care coordination
      22. Increase transparency of cost and quality for consumers
      23. Increase use of preventive care and promote wellness
      24. Support local communities that wish to improve health care outcomes
      25. Reduce administrative costs
      26. Increase efficiency and access before expanding coverage
      27. Pursue new federal funds and state tax dollars to fund new programs (new cigarette, liquor, snack food and income taxes; 5% tax on sodas and salty foods)
      28. Create three new givernment entities to govern and administer the new programs

      1. Keep tweaking the leaks on the raft.

        KISS was not the guiding principle, obviously.  Employers are still involved and the insurance CEO’s still make their millions.

        Bob Herbert of the NYT has a good piece in today’s Sarasota paper (an NYT subsidiary, BTW.)  He tells the story of a 15 year old girl that had cysts and cancer.  Mom figured that she was covered with her insurance from work; it had a $3 million dollar cap.

        Oops.  Only $75,000 per year.  “I’m sorry Mrs. Jones, but your loved one is going to die because we have the ‘gotcha” on you.”

        Gotcha! Wiggle, wiggle!  Hey Gecko, LIAS, and you anti-single payer health care righties.  Have you checked your annual cap lately?

        The daughter got on Medicaid but died anyway. 

        More private profit, public responsibility. What bullshit. 

        God, I hate these assholes. 

      2. Let’s be clear.  The 5th proposal is what the Democratic administration labored over mightly and pooped out.  This is what Democrats mean when they say “health care reform.”  This is what will be forced on Coloradans in January.

        This is not a visionary plan that makes the world better off.  If I was Governor (be thankful I am not), I’d be ashamed to claim this as mine.

        At its core, it is focused on expanding the number of people eligible for Medicaid, a program that, according to the figures of the 208 Commission, only covers 71% of the costs of service — the uncovered costs get shifted to private payors (people who pay cash for medical services or people who have private insurance).

        It creates three new giverment agencies (#28) and gives more money to existing giverment programs (#17 & 18)

        It raises taxes (#27)

        Undocumented aliens don’t have to participate and will continue to be eligible for free health care (#6)

        How does this affect somebody who lives in rural Colorado, where health care insurance is already expensive and hard to get?

        First, the bureaucrats in Denver don’t give a shit about you, ’cause you don’t live on the front range.  You don’t have a representative on the 208 Commission (or any other commission or board for that matter).

        Second, state taxes will increase by about $1.1 billion according to the 208 Commission consultant’s figures.  So your taxes go up.

        Third, health insurance premiums will increase by $1.2 billion to cover the cost shifting of the Medicaid programs.  So your medical insurance premiums go up.

        The bottom line for those of us with private insurance or who pay for their health care, Democratic health care reform means “You pay more in taxes, givernment bureaucracies get bigger, you pay more in health care premiums, unless you’re part of the new subsidized Medicaid recipients, your health care coverages stay the same.”

        Boy, howdy.  Sign me up for this.

        1. Doesn’t happen often.

          Thought I was leaving CO just in time to miss out on the great health care programs around the corner.

          Looks like I’ll be missing out on lots of aggrevation, time consuming proof of income stuff, and have to support the vampires, the health insurance industry.

          If the righties here thought that the proposed single payer plan was going to run business off, this plan will ignite a lot of outbound flights and northbound I-25 lanes.

        2. This is NOT what Democrats have labored hard for.  I have listened now to a number of State Reps and Senators on the Democratic side of the aisle, and every one of them was more interested in the universal health care plan than they are with this one.

          This may be the proposal that the commission promotes to the Legislature, but don’t be surprised if at least one of the other plans is put forward in legislation as well.

  2. Denver’s Deadly Air Pollution: How it affects your health and your children

    By Frosty Wooldridge

    Re: Air violations put new rules on Denver’s horizon/Lipsher/11/21

    As to our air pollution and ozone crisis growing in Colorado, and as the consequences of Denver’s accelerating population pile up faster than we can solve them–I find it criminally irresponsible for the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and their journalists refusing to address and report on the root cause: overpopulation!  Without speaking about or writing about exceeding our carrying capacity, their reports solve nothing.  They resemble the journalists in New Orleans who kept reporting about the levees being too weak to withstand a big storm, but they didn’t report on the man who would build better ones.  When the storm hit, the levees broke.  Victims and survivors resulted!

    Again, you can’t solve Denver’s air pollution/ozone problem without addressing the root cause.  You can’t solve air pollution by adding more population which translates into more cars and homes! 

    Recent estimates show Colorado adding six to 10 million people while America adds 100 million Americans within 40 years.  Over 150 million people breathe polluted air in major cities across America.  Air pollution increases lung cancer, asthma and injects tiny particles coated with chemicals into human beings’ bodies. Pregnant women breathe poison air into their fetuses’ delicate and developing tissue.  Many other health consequences cascade from air pollution. 
    Every day in America (on average):
    •  40,000 people miss school or work due to asthma.
    •  30,000 people have an asthma attack.
    •  5,000 people visit the emergency room due to asthma.
    •  1,000 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma.
    •  11 people die from asthma.
    *  An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from asthma (1 in 15 Americans), and 50 percent of asthma cases “allergic-asthma.”  The prevalence of asthma has been increasing since the early 1980s across all age, sex and racial groups.
      *   Asthma is the most common chronic condition among children.
    *  Asthma is more common among adult women than adult men.
    *  Asthma is more common among male children than female children.
    *  Asthma is more common among children than adults.
    *  The annual cost of asthma is estimated to be $18 billion.
    *  400,000 Americans die of lung cancer annually.
    Data source: Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA.
    If you live in Denver and other large cities, you can ‘see’ the air you’re breathing.  It’s brown, yellow or tan in color.  It shifts in layers over the skyline.  Tall smoke-stacks belch unending streams of poisons from power plants — diesel trucks spew polluting toxic smoke ribbons along the expressways — cars by the millions emit tons of particulate into the air.  Millions of homes burn wood, oil and natural gas that exhausts into air over our cities.  Sewer systems spew toxic air into our clean environment. Massive bovine herds emit methane gas into the millions of metric tons.
    Do you smoke tobacco products?  Why?  Why not?  Whether you do or not, if you live in Denver, you smoke the equivalent of a pack of cancer producing cigarettes every 24 hours.  Your children absorb the same toxins with every breath of their young lives.  Your health stands at risk with every breath — because you breathe thousands of toxic particles every day.
    The “red-warning” flag flies scores of days during the October through April period, typically.
    During the many “temperature-inversion days” — one of the worst things you can do, coming into Denver from the mountains on I-70, is see the “brown soup” that you are about to breathe.  When I come back home from a weekend in the pristine air of the Rockies, I’m sickened that I’m back to breathing that toxic air with every breath I take.
    Can it get worse? 
    You bet!  Denver expects to add two to three million more people in 33 years as the rest of the country adds 100 million people by 2040.  Some experts tell us those numbers are much higher.
    In the summer of 2007 in Denver, Colorado, air quality monitors registered 74 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate – the highest ever recorded for dirty air over in the metro area.
    As Denver’s Rocky Mountain News journalist Todd Hartman reported, “Dirty air over the metro area could linger into today, prolonging a stretch of toxic pollution that has prompted warnings even for healthy people. Air monitors have recorded unprecedented levels of particulates — this is gritty air.” 
    Colorado regulator Mike Silverstein, at the state health department said, “We are praying for winds.”  Winds from the west tend to sweep the pollution toward the east.
    What happens when those winds blow air pollution out of our cities?  It falls as acid rain on the land, in our lakes and into our rivers.  It poisons the earth and water.  It creates havoc with nitrogen-fixing-bacteria in our top-soil.  It kills entire fish populations in lakes and rivers.  It kills trees and native vegetation by changing their soil PH balance.  It’s insidious, deadly and growing worse.  And worst of all, it often finds a route to other nations. 
    At this time, China places a new coal-fired electrical plant on line every two weeks.  The resulting pollution falls on North America in ever increasing amounts of particulate.
    What are we doing about air pollution? 
    As a result of expensive clean-up actions by industry, emissions have been reduced – but the awkward and unplanned growth overwhelms clean-up efforts.  Lacking an overall strategic growth-plan, pollution pockets arise overnight.
    In the next 33 years, we’re adding 100 million people who will add up to 50 to 60 million more cars, trucks, planes and trains to the mix.  We’ll add at least 40 million homes, thousands of schools, malls, firehouses, sewage treatment plants, commercial businesses, power plants and more air pollution generating facilities.  We’ll add millions of miles of roads, cut down millions of trees, and pave-over millions of acres of beautiful open-space lands – some of which give us the vegetables we need every day. 
    Our breathing-oxygen comes from the green plants we destroy both on the land and phytoplankons in the oceans.
    How many other physical health consequences do we suffer — as human beings do their best to live in air polluted cities?  How about eye irritation?  How about toxic heavy metals and nasty chemicals transported to our brain tissue – carried by the oxygen to the otherwise life-giving cells in our lungs.  How about birth defects caused to children?  How about long-term effects on plant and animal life downstream from air polluted cities?
    Willy-Nilly Population Growth Continues – Unchecked.
    Does it occur to anyone that we create tomorrow’s unfathomable consequences for future generations by our irrational population growth?  Even if we mandated zero population growth in the United States today — by shutting down all immigration, our own population momentum adds 30 million people to this country in the three-generations born here by 2040.  In other words, we’re placing future generations into a no-win situation. 
    Our civilization and Denver, Colorado stand frozen on the tracks – ironically bewildered — in the headlights of a runaway population freight train of our own making.

    Take action: ;
    ;  ; ;
    ;  ;;

    Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents – from the Arctic to the South Pole – as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border.  In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece.  He presents “The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it” to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges.  He works to bring about sensible world population balance at his website


    1. According to your thesis, all of our environmental problems are caused by overpopulation.  Let me guess what comes next, therefore lets deport all the illegals.  Problem solved.  Brilliant.

      I remember reading your crazy-ass incoherent batshit rantings in either the Colorado Daily or the Camera (or both) way back when.  Good to see you’re still out there, and I mean OUT THERE.

      1. ….goes, it IS immigration, legal and illegal that accounts for close to 90% of our population growth in the last 40 years.  That includes the kids and g-kids. 

        Americans of all colors were at a tad over replacement rates by 1970.  Without the immigration act of 1965 we would be at perhaps 270 million or even less. 

        Nothing hysterical, just facts to work with.

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