Single-payer healthcare would take Colorado further down the destructive path of government-run healthcare. We have read this book before – it means higher taxes, longer wait times, and lower quality of care. Obamacare began the government takeover of healthcare, and Colorado doesn’t need any more of its cancelled plans, lost doctors, or higher costs. Single-payer itself has reared its ugly head in America at the VA, where thousands of veterans have literally died waiting for care, with little accountability in the bureaucracy.
The better path forward: choice, freedom, flexibility, and innovation in the healthcare insurance market.
Buying across state lines
As it relates to insurance, Colorado needs less, not more government involvement in the system. A few simple fixes would give more people better access to quality, affordable health plans that fit their needs. For example, consumers should be able to buy insurance across state lines. If Colorado families are able to find health insurance plans in Kansas, Wyoming, or Virginia that suit their needs, government restrictions should not stand in the way. Moreover, the increased competition will help cut costs.
Eliminating excessive mandates and regulations
Similarly, both the state and federal government should seek to eliminate Obamacare’s onerous mandates and insurance regulations. It should come as no surprise that Obamacare enrollment has fallen far short of expectations, and that people are fed up with the increasing costs and skyrocketing deductibles. Clearly, people are not keen on the idea of paying artificially inflated premiums for an insurance plan that does not suit their needs. Eliminating unnecessary mandates–like the requirement that every health plan cover maternity care regardless of whether or not you have or are planning to have a baby – and regulations would allow people to find plans that meet their needs, not the needs of Washington bureaucrats. It would also bring down the price of insurance by eliminating unnecessary coverage costs on many plans.
Colorado should ask for a clean block grant of all of its federal Medicaid dollars. Medicaid is a broken one-size-fits-all health insurance program. Our poorest citizens deserve better than the failed solutions Washington has offered. Coloradans know better how to design solutions for Colorado patients. A Medicaid block grant would allow the state to formulate a Medicaid system and solutions that work best for the most vulnerable people in the Centennial State.
These and other reforms to the insurance market – like empowering small-group health plans and health savings accounts, will help Coloradans afford insurance plans that work for them.
However, the most significant healthcare reforms do not center around the insurance conversation. The reforms that Colorado should pursue to increase access to quality, affordable healthcare – especially for the most vulnerable among us – will be supply-side, state-based, and patient-focused.
Expanding the scope of practice
For example, the state should seek to expand the scope of practice for midlevel healthcare providers such as nurses and nurse practitioners. Allowing these professionals more flexibility to provide basic care will improve their ability to work in rural or low-income communities, decrease healthcare costs now and later on by preventing more serious conditions, allow doctors to focus on the most serious procedures for which their training and expertise is required, and would even create healthcare jobs.
Another place Colorado should seek to improve is the regulation of telemedicine. This innovative concept will improve access to care for the thousands of Coloradans living in rural communities who may not have easy access to a particular doctor or specialist. Allowing telemedicine to be a freer dialogue between patient and provider free from onerous government interference would increase access to care that suits the needs of individual patients as they see fit.
Direct Primary Care
For those that seek stability in healthcare costs, Direct Primary Care is a great option. For a low monthly fee (usually around $100), people can enroll in a DPC practice that allows them regular visits and covers the cost of basic care with a physician they trust. DPCs are growing and expanding quickly nationwide. Moreover, Congress recently clarified that people who enroll in Direct Primary Care are exempt from Obamacare’s expensive and unpopular individual mandate.
These are just a few of the free-market, supply-side reforms that Colorado could pursue that would help meet the broken promises of Obamacare and single-payer healthcare. Importantly, these reforms should not be seen as an “alternative” to Obamacare or single-payer; rather, they simply represent a brand new direction in healthcare policy and reform – one focused not on simply putting a card in every person’s pocket, but on actually improving their access to quality, affordable healthcare and improving their health outcomes.
Colorado doesn’t need more government-run healthcare. We need more freedom, flexibility, and innovation in healthcare!