Denver uninsured living nightmare vision of present health care system

As health care reform legislation begins to take shape in states around the country, the Denver Post today presents a picture of how the present unreformed health care system is working for the increasing numbers of the uninsured in Denver. People wait and wait. Serious illnesses go untreated. Doctors shake their heads. In other words, it’s a nightmare vision of everything the people railing against “Obamacare” said would happen if lawmakers voted to “socialize” medicine.

A rising number of needy patients without health insurance is overwhelming community clinics in Denver, leaving some sick people to wait up to four months to see a family doctor.

When new patients call one of Denver Health Medical Center’s eight clinics across the city, they are transferred to a downtown call center where they are put on a waiting list — a list that now contains 3,500 names.

Patients can end up on the list “even if they are dying of something — that’s the horror,” said Dr. Lara Penny, a family doctor at Denver Health’s Montbello clinic.

Last Friday Jon Caldara, president of the libertarian Independence Institute, submitted signatures to land his Health Care Choice citizen initiative on the November ballot. The initiative seeks to block health care reform legislation from taking effect in Colorado.

“We want Colorado to be a sanctuary state for quality health care,” Caldara told 9News. “This is not just to address the mandate in Obama-care, this is to make sure Colorado never becomes like Massachusetts where government puts a gun to your head and says you will buy a private product whether you want it or not.”

But there’s not much “health care choice” being documented at Montbello. Health care consumer advocates have denounced the Caldara initiative as ideologically driven and bad policy. Democratic U.S. Rep. Diana Degette told 9News that thinking citizens of Colorado would vote the initiative down.

“It’s hard to imagine that there are too many Colorado seniors who don’t want the Medicare donut hole closed, parents who don’t want their children to have coverage as young adults, patients with pre-existing conditions who don’t want to finally get insurance or families and small business owners who aren’t interested in actually being able to afford coverage,” Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado), who was a leading advocate of the plan in the House of Representatives, said. “But if there are, it’s certainly his right to try and find them.”

The Secretary of State is presently reviewing the signatures submitted by Caldara and will announce whether the initiative will make the ballot in the coming weeks.

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