Merrifield, Morse bring in health-care reform leaders

       Colorado Representative Michael Merrifield and Senator John Morse will look for public opinion on potentially extensive state health care legislation at an informal public meeting Saturday, March 15 at Manitou Springs City Hall, 606 Manitou Ave.
       Titled “Health Care Conversation with El Paso County Leaders,” The session will be from 8 to 9:30 a.m.
       Merrifield and Morse, both Democrats, represent districts that include parts of the Westside and Manitou.
       Also scheduled to be on hand are Kelly Shanahan, policy director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI); and Elizabeth Feder, staff member of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy and also a Manitou council member.
       The CCHI, a statewide advocacy group, led the preparation last year of a proposal which calls for broader, more affordable coverage and, as a result, a healthier Colorado, but which would also increase government regulation of health care - including mandatory insurance and the creation of a new state commission to ensure that rules are followed.
       Another potentially controversial requirement of the CCHI proposal is health coverage for “undocumented workers” (also known as illegal immigrants). Such coverage would reduce costs to legal Coloradans who now foot illegals' health bills and would “prevent the spread of communicable disease,” explains “Connecting Care & Health for Colorado: A Proposal to Expand State Coverage by the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative,” published last April.
       To pay for the overall program, “the State may have to raise new public funds, which would require a vote of the people due to TABOR [the state tax-limitation law],” according to the CCHI proposal. “Potential new funding sources could include raising the tobacco excise tax again or raising other sin taxes on things like alcohol and snacks and sodas. Other sources could include a broad tax on those that benefit from the comprehensive health care system such as health care providers [although the latter tax could be offset by providers receiving higher reimbursements].”
       The Colorado Center on Law and Policy, according to its website, has as its mission “to promote justice and economic security for all Coloradans, particularly lower income people.” One of its goals is to “increase access to affordable, quality healthcare.”

Westside Pioneer article