CD-2 Candidates Offer Health Care Proposals

All want universal coverage, more emphasis on prevention. Payment and coverage details differ, however.Health care is rearing its Cerberus head in the second congressional district’s Democratic primary. Candidate Will Shafroth held a press conference around his kitchen table Feb. 14 to announce his plan, and opponent Jared Polis felt it necessary to respond last week to criticism by The Rocky Mountain News editorial page of his proposal for a national single-payer plan.

Shafroth said he supports a plan that would put the government further into the health insurance business, offering health care plans to citizens without them, available on an “ability to pay” basis. He added that, if elected, he will decline the (excellent) health care plan offered to members of Congress until such time as health care is available to all Americans.

At the press conference, Shafroth unveiled a one-minute political commercial featuring himself and his daughter Lily, detailing a health care crisis of their own when Lily was first born. She contracted pertussis – “whooping cough” – and nearly died from it.

In the ad,  Shafroth says he’s grateful:

“For the fact that I had a job that provided health insurance to cover nearly all of the costs of Lily’s care … I’m running for Congress to change the way Washington approaches health care. I’ve assembled a comprehensive health care plan designed to give Americans access to affordable, quality health care.”

Shafroth says his plan resembles those proposed by Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama but “with an even greater focus on prevention and wellness.”

CD-2 Democratic candidate Will Shafroth introduces the campaign’s new video at his kitchen table.

Polis, meanwhile, has responded to the RMN‘s Vincent Carroll charge that his plan would result in widespread rationing of health care.

But Polis said:

“We spend nearly twice as much per capita on health care as other Western nations, and yet our health outcomes are in the middle of the pack. One of the main drivers of cost are the estimated 50 million uninsured Americans, who are treated in the costliest manner with the worst health outcomes under our current system.”

Polis has called for “establishing a universal single-payer federal program that includes preventive and catastrophic [health care] insurance for every American whether they are out of work, between jobs, young, or old.”

Shafroth’s plan would not be a “single-payer” plan like the one Polis is calling for. But both want to see more emphasis on “prevention” that attempts to reduce health problems before they get to the emergency room.

Polis points out that we currently have “rationing” of health care now. But the rationing is based on the ability to pay, rather than on the need for the service.

Joan Fitz-Gerald, the third candidate — and presumptive front-runner — in the race, also supports a single-payer system “as the only way for every American to be insured and save our medical system from ever increasing costs.”

In an interview last week, Fitz-Gerald said that the voters in the district are voicing more concerns about the issue.

“Health care is big,” she said, “really big … It drives bankruptcies. Many seniors on Medicare have a 20 percent co-pay. For a lot of people it is beyond the ability to pay.”

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Dan Whipple

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