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November 19, 2008 04:57 PM UTC

McGihon Ousted From Committee Chair

  • by: Colorado Pols

As the Rocky Mountain News reports:

An outspoken advocate of a government-run health care system for Colorado was removed as head of the legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday.

House Speaker-designee Terrance Carroll said he is replacing Rep. Anne McGihon, a fellow Denver Democrat, because he thought the legislature needed to move in a new direction in health care discussions.

McGihon, who has headed the committee that deals with health care bills for the past four years, will be replaced by Rep. Jim Riesberg, D-Greeley. McGihon will retain a seat on the committee…

“You’re going to have to ask Terrance why he removed me,” McGihon said. “He didn’t tell me why he removed me.”

Carroll said it is time to look at a wider range of issues, including preventive care and greater access to quality health care, subjects he says would benefit from Riesberg’s background in nonprofit work involving the elderly.

He said that McGihon’s running against him for the speaker’s post didn’t influence his decision, noting that Gunnison Rep. Kathleen Curry also opposed him but remains chairwoman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee…

McGihon raised eyebrows right after the election as you may recall by almost gleefully dancing on the grave of presumed Speaker-in-waiting Bernie Buescher, which led to her own poorly-received bid for the job.

Just another example of how being a socially well-adjusted person really helps in this line of work…


25 thoughts on “McGihon Ousted From Committee Chair

  1. ..when I lived in he District 1 tail, down in Englewood.  

    Her office in the capitol was next door to M. Carroll’s, where I worked.  We chatted from time to time.

    All I can tell you is, something, deep inside, prevented me from liking her.  I am unable to say what or why, but that was my gut reaction.  

  2. on McGihon’s part will potentially sink the chances of a single-payer health care system in Colorado.

    On a larger note, Ritter’s near-complete failure to make progress on the health care front is one of the biggest disappointments of his tenure.

    1. The world economic crisis, coupled with our state’s own budget crisis, didn’t do him any favors. It’s kind of hard to create single-payer health care for all Coloradans when there’s a hiring/spending freeze.

      He has made progress on the New Energy Economy, though, and I give him credit for that.

      But I do agree that he hasn’t delivered much of what he promised to do in 2006.

        1. It’ll end up being much cheaper if the federal government does it than if individual states have to. You have both economies of scale and also funding/middleman issues, since much of the budget would come from the feds anyway. Though I agree, if you’re ever going to do it at either level, now is the time.

        2. We end up spending less in the long term.  We end up spending more right now.  It’s not a long-term economic drain, but it’s certainly a cash flow problem when you don’t have a lot of extra state budget.

          1. Single-payer plans are afoot for upcoming legislative session.

            Health Care for All Colorado has been working on a single-payer bill.  After I left the HD-6 primary, HCAC asked me to join its board.  One of my jobs has been working on a single-payer bill along with a big group of health care experts and physicians.  We’re not quite ready to roll it out–but close.

            I believe that now is an optimum time for state-level reform.  (How soon will our state’s 800,000 uninsured grow to 1 million?)  We’re fully alert to the tension between state-based single payer reform and national reform.  I think that national single payer reform needs a bit of a push from state-based experimentation within federalist model.  Colorado can be a leader in that effort along with Pennsylvania and California.

            We’re realistic about the state’s financial situation.  Single Payer can provide coverage to everyone while saving money.  But, we also know that at this point, the state of Colorado may not be able to afford to save all that money.

            Finally, I think I disagree with CJ that the replacement of Rep. McGihon as committee chair sets back single payer in Colorado.  My sense is that Rep. McGihon is more of a supporter of single payer nationally and less supportive of single-payer on the state level.

            If anyone has an interest in Health Care for All Colorado’s efforts, please let me know privately.

            Tom Russell


            1. from someone actually knowledgeable and involved in moving this issue that McGihon’s replacement is not going to set back progress.  Thanks for setting the record straight.

      1. Those are all nice excuses but the time line doesn’t work. He gave up on health care a long time ago, he never even really considered doing anything.  

        1. I have talked to Gov. Ritter face-to-face about this issue and after the Blue ribbon report was issued it became obvious the state did not have the funds to tackle it and with our convoluted TABOR amendment it may never be possible.

    2. The Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on health care came up with several different options. The one with the least cost would have added $1.8 billion to the annual state budget. Colorado state government simply doesn’t have that amount of discretionary revenue. In fact, at the moment, it doesn’t have any discretionary funds and the programs that are normally funded by those funds are being cut next year. Fiscal constarints along with the down turn in the economy make it impossible for Governor Ritter to attack this problem on a broad front.

      He has taken action to insure more children for health care.

      1. R 36,

        The Lewin Group analysis of the proposals that the 208 commission considered concluded that the Colorado Health Services Plan–the only single payer plan in the lot–would cover everyone and REDUCE overall expenditure by $1.4 billion.  

        For a summary, See:

        The difficulty, of course, is that it will take some money; substantial technical, legislative creativity; and some federal action in order to achieve that savings.

        In California, it took 10 years to get SB 840 to the governor’s desk, and I’m trying to be realistic about single payer for Colorado.


        Tom Russell

        1. reduces overall health care expenditures by $1.4 billion, but would cause a huge spike in state expenditures.  The Lewin Report estimates “health spending” at $30 billion, with about $12 billion of that coming from public funds.  The overall cost of the single payer plan had a total tab of $1.5 billion less than that.  The additional $16.5 billion in revenue for the plan would need to be picked up from somewhere. Therefore it would need to go through the TABOR hoops.

          1. I was concerned about Rep 36’s use of $1.8 billion and thought that maybe s/he confused that figure with the $1.4 billion in savings.

            Regarding TABOR, one idea is to create an entity–a non-profit, for example–that operates as the single payer.  This again creates TABOR issues, although it might open the chance of a creating a TABOR enterprise.  The whole scheme, though, depends on the federal government cooperating.  

            Several ducks have to line up for this to work.


          2. This has been explored and the solution is very simple: Just as every employer pays Workmen’s Compensation, they can pay a Health Care Premium.  It is not a tax in the literal sense, hence is immune to TABOR, just like WC.

            The fees (not taxes!)necessary to run the program comes from no-longer-needed health insurance premiums going to the insurance companies.  And in the big picture, in the long haul, it would be less than our current nightmare.  

            1. Parsing,

              Yes, that’s our argument.  Fees help to run the program.  They are not taxes.  And, so no TABOR problem.

              I’m more concerned about medicaid and a couple of other pots of money.  Does pouring that money into the single-payer pot push past the 10 % limit for a TABOR entprise?  I think the answer can be no, but it’s not quite as easy as collecting a premium.

              And, again, Congress has to help by allowing states to innovate with Medicare money.


  3. Definitely solidifies his house seat in a district that he has worked very hard to win and maintain. He is excellent on senior issues which will come in handy here.

    I would think this will also delight his constituents to see him in such a high ranking leadership role.

    And wow. Unlike our fellow Dems in DC, we Coloradoans don’t fuck around with punishment. We mete it out quick…and hard. 🙂

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