Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sen. Greg Brophy: “Good policy, toxic politics.”

A recently introduced health-care reform measure that has stirred up passions among some Capitol watchers is poised for its first hearing on Thursday in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Its Democratic Senate sponsor, President Pro Tem Betty Boyd, of Lakewood, said the bill has been misunderstood.

The measure, Senate Bill 200, creates a framework for health-benefit exchanges, to be formed as prescribed by the federal Health Care Reform Act.

Much of the outcry over the introduction of the measure came from constituents of its Republican House sponsor, Majority Leader Amy Stephens, of Monument. Stephens stands by her sponsorship, saying the exchanges are not only a Republican-inspired concept but that they also should be designed by Coloradans.

“If you look at how the Post Office is running, I’m not sure we want the exchanges left up to the federal government,” said Stephens. “The exchanges are a free-market idea that, absent some of the provisions of the federal law, are a good idea.”

Boyd said that despite the firestorm that accompanied SB 200’s introduction, the measure has so far enjoyed considerable bipartisan cooperation.

“We have had incredible agreement and support for this bill,” said Boyd. “Not every provision is loved by everybody, but it was put together in a bipartisan way.”

Stephens concurs with Boyd and said that she is confident that with Coloradans at the helm, the federally required arrangement will ultimately reflect Colorado values.

“We have good health care minds here in Colorado,” said Stephens.

Prominent groups representing the business community issued a prepared statement today addressing the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the House Health and Environment Committee, expressing satisfaction with the measure.

“The business coalition worked with sponsors to create a bill that provides great access to affordable care while promoting a competitive marketplace that protects private industry jobs, and provides employers with additional affordable choices when considering health benefits for employers,” said the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Colorado Competitive Council, Colorado Concern and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Also supportive of the exchanges is Sen. Irene Aguilar, D- Denver, a physician. Aguilar has a bill of her own, Senate Bill 168, that would create a Colorado health care cooperative, essentially creating a single Colorado health care group that self-administers. Aguilar says her goal is to see all Coloradans insured.

“The exchanges have the potential to help make things easier for insurance reform,” said Aguilar. “Someone needs to pay for people who get sick, and we need to ask ourselves how we can do that. The exchange gives the small-group markets the same power as large group-markets, making it more affordable.”

Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, says he understands the rhetoric swirling around the measure.

“I can sum it up in four words,” said Brophy. “Good policy, toxic politics.”

Via - Colorado News Agency

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