Best-selling author and PBS film-maker T. R. Reid has been elected chairman of the board of The Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care, supporting the fast-growing statewide movement to provide a cooperative health care plan for everybody in the state at reduced cost.
“The Colorado Health Care Cooperative would be a win-win-win for Coloradans,” Reid said. “It gets everybody covered. It saves billions in administrative costs. And it gets Colorado out of ObamaCare.”
Under Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act, or “ObamaCare,” any state that sets up a health care system for all its residents is permitted to “opt out” of the federal health care reform. “Once we set up our health care cooperative, the mandates, regulations, and penalties in ObamaCare won’t apply to Colorado any more,” Reid explained.
“The basic principle is simple,” Reid said. “We’re convinced that Coloradans can design a health care system for ourselves that is better than anything Washington wants to impose on us. So we want to take advantage of the opt-out provision in the federal law.”
The Foundation and its political arm, Co-operate Colorado, are working towards a ballot initiative in 2016 to create a Colorado-based nonprofit cooperative health care plan that would cover everyone in the state from birth until they go on Medicare at age 65. After 65, the plan would provide supplemental coverage. Independent studies have shown that cooperative plans have significantly lower premiums than commercial health insurance. They do not rely on restrictive “narrow networks” through which insurance companies dictate which doctors and hospitals a patient can see.
The organization’s program is based on the plan for a Colorado Cooperative that was designed by State Sen. Irene Aguilar, a physician on the board at Denver Health who is widely considered the leading authority on health policy in the state legislature.
Reid, a Denver resident, has become a nationally-recognized advocate for improved health care because of his best-selling book “The Healing of America” and three films he made for PBS comparing the U.S. health care system to those in other industrialized democracies.
“All the advanced, free-market democracies in the world provide high-quality health care for everybody, but spend about half as much as we do,” Reid said. “We could definitely create a system as comprehensive and efficient as the ones I saw in France, Japan, Germany, etc.”
Several national publications, including the New York Times and The Economist, have recently dubbed Colorado “the new California” because the state has become a national leader on public policy issues, including education, fracking, and legalized marijuana. In the same way, the foundation expects a cooperative health care plan here to prompt similar programs for universal coverage in other states.
“The political scientists call this the “demonstration effect,” Reid said. “If one state undertakes a new approach to a long-standing policy problem—as Colorado did with marijuana—other states will see it working and follow the leader.” Since Coloradans voted to legalize marijuana two years ago, four other states and the District of Columbia have done the same.
“We think Colorado could also be a national leader on the road to universal health care,” Reid added. “Once our state makes it work, this idea is likely to spread across the country.”
The “ObamaCare” law was designed to provide health insurance to more Americans – but not to everybody. Even if it works perfectly, ObamaCare will leave some 30 million Americans uninsured, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Many experts have said that further expansion of health coverage will have to be achieved state-by-state, because Congress is too polarized to make a significant change at the national level.
The board of the Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care elected the new chairman at its December meeting.
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