No to a Colorado Heath Care Authority

Editor’s note: This is an edited version of the recent testimony from Dan Anglin, CACI Governmental Affairs Representative, against Senate Bill 168, sponsored by Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver. The bill would set up the Colorado Health Care Authority to design a health care cooperative. The authority would recommend a universal health care system that could be run by the cooperative, and the proposal would be put to a statewide vote.

I am here today to oppose SB-168. The CACI HealthCare Council carefully considered this bill and determined that it is designed to create a single-payer system of health benefits that will put the delivery of health-care within the confines of a governmental authority.

By creating a governmental health-care authority that is charged with providing health benefits for all Coloradans, SB-168 displaces the private health-insurance industry that directly employs over 20,000 people in our state.

Data indicates that for every health-insurance job, there are two-to-three other occupations that are directly related, which means that passing SB 168 could mean more than 60,000 jobs lost in Colorado. 

The bill recognizes that jobs will be lost if this measure is passed by requiring the authority to determine measures to provide retraining, and to determine measures to provide extended unemployment insurance benefits for those who are displaced by the establishment of the cooperative. 

We are talking about claims processors, fraud investigators, information-technology professionals, actuaries, benefits managers, phone-bank workers, collections agents, administrators, assistants, and anyone directly employed by an insurance carrier. 

In addition, this bill would put pharmaceutical benefits-management companies out of business as well as brokers, agents, and anyone else who works in the health-insurance industry. 

As we all know, Colorado’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund is insolvent. It is unclear how the state will be able to manage the burden of over 60,000 new UI claims when Colorado is already borrowing money from the Federal Government to cover those unfortunate Coloradans whose jobs have already been lost to the recession. How can we afford to put an entire industry out of business? 

Single-payer models are not innovative. Competition drives innovation. Private health-insurance carriers are well ahead of such single-payer models as Medicare and Medicaid in:

· Predictive modeling tools to proactively identify high-risk individuals and then outreach to help improve their quality of life and reduce cost,

· Disease management and wellness programs, and

· Certification for high-performing physicians, for example. 

By putting providers under the umbrella of the state, hospitals, clinics, surgery centers, emergency rooms, urgent care centers and medical centers will become the financial burden of the taxpayer. Private health-care that is managed by private businesses will become a thing of the past. 

The legislative declaration of this bill states that the PPACA is insufficient to cover the care of those without insurance. CACI, as well as all of the other major business organizations in Colorado, have been working with the sponsors of the bill that will create the Colorado health insurance exchange, a measure that promotes competition within private health-industries to provide access to care for over 300,000 people currently uninsured in our state. 

The exchange is not an effort to put private industry into the hands of the government. It is an effort to enroll those who would qualify for Medicaid under the new Federal guidelines into that program and to create cost-savings for individuals and small businesses by combining the risk of the individual market and the small-group market, to provide people with access to quality, affordable care. 

SB-168 would decimate those herculean efforts by the business community, the health-care industry, consumers, and elected officials to provide health-care that builds Colorado’s economy while making our residents healthier. 

Additionally, the bill has a conditional fiscal note of $1.2 million just to create the authority and the administrative burdens that are associated with the creation of a new quasi-governmental agency. 

In closing, the concept of a single-payer system is designed to put the government in the business of providing health benefits. This bill will put too many people out of a job, put too much of a financial burden on taxpayers and will put a government agency in charge of your health-care decisions. 

Additionally, the financing of this authority would center on mandatory payroll contributions, income-tax assessments, and an income-based premium. 

Please reject this job-killing, government-takeover of the fastest growing sector of our economy.

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