Summit County pediatrician hosts presentation on new state health care system | SummitDaily.com

Summit County pediatrician hosts presentation on new state health care system

Alli Langley
alangley@summitdaily.com

Summit County pediatrician Dr. Christine Ebert-Santos holds a patient in this file photo from 2011. Ebert-Santos will host a presentation on ColoradoCare, a state healthcare system that could be included on the 2016 ballot, on Sunday, July 11, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Tiger Run RV Resort clubhouse north of Breckenridge.

For 20 years, Dr. Christine Ebert-Santos practiced medicine on a small Pacific island and didn't have to worry about insurance reimbursements or coding.

That changed when the pediatrician moved back to the U.S. with her family about 15 years ago and opened the Ebert Family Clinic in Frisco.

For patients, the American health care system remains too complex and unfair and often results in worse health outcomes than in other wealthy countries, she said.

Ebert-Santos added that as health care providers, "we lose a lot of money because of the complexity of reimbursement."

The physician has thrown her support behind ColoradoCare, a state system that would provide universal health care to all residents through a non-governmental, nonprofit, cooperatively run organization.

Ebert-Santos arranged to bring two representatives of ColoradoCare to Summit County, and she will host a presentation on the health care system on Sunday, July 11, from 5-8 p.m. at the Tiger Run RV Resort clubhouse north of Breckenridge.

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The public event will include a Q&A session, discussion and refreshments.

'A HUGE GROUNDSWELL'

ColoradoCare has been in the works for nearly 10 years and was born out of concern for the quality and cost of health care for the insured, underinsured and the 9 percent of Coloradans — or roughly 480,000 people — estimated to be uninsured.

The proposal has since been vetted by economists and introduced as legislation by state senator and physician Irene Aguilar in 2013. The initiative was approved for the 2016 ballot in April and will appear if a petition receives roughly 98,500 signatures.

Then if the initiative passes, ColoradoCare would begin full operation in 2019.

"We're not going to be able to improve the health care payment system without a huge groundswell from the public," Ebert-Santos said.

Similar initiatives have gained momentum in other states, but none have passed.

"We would be the forerunner," Ebert-Santos said, adding that Colorado could set an example for the rest of the U.S. in a similar way to how the Canadian health care system was changed decades ago.

Advocates say the system would remove the anxiety and confusion of the current health care system, give people more flexibility in job choice, separate health care from government politics and provide fair and cost-effective care for every resident of Colorado.

One of the strongest supporters of ColoradoCare is journalist, author and Denver resident T.R. Reid, who wrote a book called "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care" about his experiences receiving care and paying for treatment of an arm injury in various countries.

HOW IT WORKS

An economic analysis of the system reported that the market power and administration and fraud reduction of ColoradoCare would save employers about $3.1 billion while residents would save about $1.7 billion, which would mean an average savings of $390 a year among those not currently on Medicaid.

All federal health care programs including Medicare and Medicaid would remain in place, residents would choose their providers and ColoradoCare would reimburse providers competitively.

The system would be funded through Affordable Care Act state waiver funds, Medicaid waiver funds and a health care premium tax on payroll and non-payroll income.

Employees would be taxed a 3.33 percent payroll deduction while employers would contribute 6.67 percent, for a total of 10 percent. That would mean for someone with an income of $50,000, the employer would pay $278 per month and the employee would pay $139 per month.

Self-employed people would pay 10 percent of their net, non-wage income, and much of Social Security and pension income would be exempt from the tax.

ColoradoCare would cover primary, specialty, emergency and hospital health care as well as prescriptions, mental health care and substance abuse treatment, limited long-term care, the medical portion of workers compensation, and pediatric dental, vision and hearing care.

Deductibles would be eliminated as would copayments for most primary care and preventative services.

"Almost every doctor would love to be able to practice in an environment where they don't have to worry about whether a patient can pay or not," Ebert-Santos said. "That's my dream."

For more information about the presentation, email Dr. Christine Ebert-Santos at drchrises@yahoo.com, and to learn more about ColoradoCare, visit ColoradoCareYes.co.

IF YOU GO

What: Free presentation and Q&A about ColoradoCare, a state healthcare system that could be placed on the 2016 ballot

When: Sunday, July 12, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Where: Tiger Run RV Resort clubhouse at 85 Ravette Dr., Breckenridge, CO 80424

More info: Refreshments will be provided. Event is hosted by pediatrician Christine Ebert-Santos. Email Ebert-Santos at drchrises@yahoo.com with questions.

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