Opinion | Susan Knopf: Blue Team on the Blue River
For the record
Democratic Senate hopeful Andrew Romanoff was in Summit County this week to talk with his base, the Blue Team on the Blue River. Before he chatted with Democrats, he stopped off at the Summit Colorado Interfaith Council’s first ever “People’s Supper.” It was a small invitation-only affair to create an environment that invites real, personal conversations between diverse folks who might not otherwise cross paths. The participants I spoke with said it was amazing. Reporter Sawyer D’Argonne was there, and you can find his report in the Summit Daily News.
Then Romanoff walked into the next room at the Summit County Community and Senior Center and began talking about his candidacy for U.S. Senate. To hear him tell it, during his tenure in the Colorado Legislature they fixed all our problems. I guess that’s a little like helping your kid with his homework, and getting him off to bed. You slay Monday’s dragon, but wait until Tuesday…
I will give him this much, at least he’s talking about the right stuff and he’s listening to Blue Team concerns about the spiraling cost of health care, how to develop good-paying jobs, and how to preserve the planet.
Romanoff advocates Medicare for all. Sky-high medical costs in the U.S. make us uncompetitive in global markets. For the record, we spend about 18% of our gross domestic product on health care. According to the Petersen-Kaiser Health System Tracker, we’re spending about two times as much as other industrialized nations, more than $10,000 per person. Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom all spend less than half as much.
Romanoff admitted what we already know; we don’t get much for that. We are not ranked in the top 10 of any measure of health care, longevity, infant mortality, nada. Summit County Democrats stated the obvious — conversion to a Medicare-for-all program won’t happen overnight, what do we do until then? How do we hang on?
Romanoff can’t really do much about that; he’s not in office now. Tamara Drangstveit of the Family and Intercultural Resource Center, and soon to be executive director of Peak Health Alliance, is working on a solution. She, along with the Summit Foundation Board of Trustees president Mark Spiers; and Sarah Vaine, Summit County assistant manager, negotiated a new rate card with Centura. They are discussing prices with more local medical groups to bring down Summit County health care prices. Peak Health Alliance is currently offering that new lower-priced rate card to insurance providers to bid on our business. Drangstveit hopes local businesses and individuals will be offered substantial savings for next year’s coverage on insurance products similar to what we have now. Drangstveit is quick to point out the work she is doing was made possible by a generous grant from the Summit Foundation.
State Rep. Julie McCluskie is also trying to do something down at the Legislature. She sent out an action alert this week. She is asking for our support on a reinsurance bill that would reinsure insurance carriers and back them up financially on the most catastrophic claims that drive up health care costs. If the bill passes, the Colorado Division of Insurance estimates we could save almost 23%, reports the Denver Post.
McCluskie asks you to contact the following legislators to show your support for HB1168. She says to tell them we need to support working people in Summit County with lower health insurance premiums. Here are the important legislators:
•Sen. Kerry Donovan (email@example.com OR 303-866-4871)
•Sen. Bob Rankin (firstname.lastname@example.org OR 303-866-5292)
HEALTH COMMITTEE MEMBERS
•Sen. Rhonda Fields (Rhonda.Fields.email@example.com) 303-866-4879
•Sen. Brittany Pettersen (Brittany.Pettersen.firstname.lastname@example.org) 303-866-4859
•Sen. Larry Crowder (Larry.Crowder.email@example.com) 303-866-4875
•Sen. Jim Smallwood (Jim.Smallwood.firstname.lastname@example.org) 303-866-4869
•Sen. Faith Winter (Faith.Winter.email@example.com) 303-866-4863
Back to Romanoff and Summit County Dems … Romanoff supports the Green New Deal touted by our U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and some of the other new kids on Capitol Hill.
Romanoff refutes the claim that it’s a job killer, and cites a statistic you’ve seen in this column, more jobs are being created in the green energy sector than in the fossil fuel industry, according to the Department of Energy.
Romanoff says when he was in the Legislature, Colorado was ranked 49th in job creation, and now we’re the No. 1 economy, according to U.S. News and World Report.
He says he can use the same ideas: invest in education and invest in infrastructure to generate new, good-paying jobs. He says we need to “grow an economy that works for all of us.” He advocates investing in things that stay in Colorado, instead of tax breaks for corporations.
Romanoff also says we need real immigration reform. He says he wouldn’t be here if America hadn’t opened its doors to his grandparents.
Romanoff advocates for election campaign finance reform. Citizens United gave the power to corporations, we need to take back our power, our voice, from the moneyed-few. To that end, Romanoff says he is looking to raise money from individuals and not corporate America. Informed sources claim he’s raised only a third as much as Democratic Senate hopeful and rival Mike Johnston.
The Blue Team also heard from Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons, who suspects he is one of a handful of sheriffs happily embracing the controversial, new so-called red flag bill, that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020. FitzSimons hopes it will be one more tool in his arsenal to keep guns out of the hands of those who may be temporarily suffering with mental health issues. But he’s not waiting until January to do something. He is implementing new programs to get drug users clean before they leave jail, such as Detention Division Mental Health Navigators and co-responder teams — cops riding along with mental health counselors. FitzSimons says, “the nexus of almost every call in Summit County is a mental health issue.”
Newly minted Summit County tax assessor Frank Celico says new assessments go out May 1. If you have been watching the trajectory of housing prices in Summit County since our last assessment in 2017, you can guess the good news. Housing prices have soared, and so will our assessments. Assessments follow the market. Why did my house value go up, I didn’t do anything? You can challenge the valuation. You’ll have until June 1 to do that. Cheers!
See our digital online version of this column for links to source material. Susan Knopf is a Summit County resident, and a regular contributor to the Summit Daily. Susan has won awards from the Associated Press and United Press International for her news reporting.
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