Group pushes for single-payer health care at meeting in Copper
summit daily news
COPPER – A group of 10 people from Boulder to Glenwood Springs met at a residence in Copper on Saturday to share ideas toward bringing universal, single-payer health care to Colorado.
As the debate in Washington, D. C. drags on, Coloradans are working to gain momentum on a local level.
And while people with the Tea Party movement rally against government expansion, the group meeting Saturday considers government as a viable solution to health care.
Dr. Don Parsons, a Dillon council member running for mayor, likened the health care situation to the Indian story of a group of blind men touching an elephant to learn about it. Each touches only one part and draws an assumption – concluding it’s like a wall, snake or tree – depending on which part they contact.
“If they haven’t had the opportunity to (deal) with an insurance company for major expenses, they think they have great care,” Parsons said of Americans.
There are also perspectives from people who are uninsured as well as folks whose incomes are sufficient to weather potentially devastating medical expenses.
Nobody in the group favored the existing system, and they generally agreed there should be no profits in the health care industry. Opponents to universal, single-payer care say it would place too costly a burden on taxpayers and expand government bureaucracy.
Dr. Elinor Christiansen, a retired physician with the nonprofit Health Care for All Colorado, recently testified at the state Capitol in favor of a bill to allow nonprofits, small businesses with fewer than 100 employees and local governments to buy into the existing Colorado State Group Benefit Plan.
On Saturday she described a system in Finland, where health care is divided into one unit for every 250,000 people, and with the units “competing for the best care.”
“We need to look at working models that are affordable,” she said.
Government would decide funding each year based on how the units performed.
“You don’t have to have government bureaucracy,” she said, adding that local people could run the programs.
The group also discussed the prospects of Colorado coming up with its own single-payer system.
“The problem is that we have no idea what the federal plans will be,” said Martin Hertzberg, who hosted the meeting with his wife, Ruth.
Christiansen said progress should be made on the state level regardless of what’s happening federally.
“We shouldn’t let that paralyze us, because life goes on…” Christiansen said, adding that people continue to struggle with medical bills.
A psychiatrist from Glenwood Springs said the “perfect storm” of losing one’s job and foreclosing on a home mortgage while trying to deal with health care costs can quite easily put a person in a dreadful financial position.
Dr. David Gray, a local physician, said that it often isn’t necessary for patients to visit a doctor.
“Sixty percent of what I ever saw I could handle over the phone,” Dr. David Gray said, adding that it costs much less to consult with a doctor over the phone rather than in person.
But in a country where physicians go out of their way to avoid lawsuits, insurance companies oppose consultations through phone calls.
The group made plans to meet again April 10 and some aim to establish it as a Summit Chapter to Health Care for All Colorado.
Robert Allen can be contacted
at (970) 668-4628 or
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