COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., January 16, 2014—The 2014 legislative session has begun in Colorado and health insurance is front and center. Health insurance is often equated with health care, as if they were the same thing. In fact, they are not. State Democrats are scrambling to maintain support for their takeover of the health care and insurance industry.
State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, a Republican, offered a bill to allow the sale of out-of-state health benefit plans to individuals in Colorado. The bill was carefully crafted to say that if a plan were approved for sale in another state, it could be sold in Colorado as well. That didn’t sit well with Senate President Morgan Carroll. She referred the bill to the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee.
That assignment may seem odd because the senate has a Health and Human Services Committee. The reason, however, is a simple procedural one: the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee is the designated “kill committee;” bills that go in don’t come back out.
Sen. Carroll has just sent a big message to Coloradans: you don’t deserve a choice in what health insurance you can have. You’re forced to use only what the state allows you have through the state exchange, Connect for Health Colorado.
How have Coloradans reacted to the state exchange? While 250,000 people have lost their insurance since October, only 50,000 purchased a state-controlled plan. Of those, only 22% were the young target group that Democrats wanted.
Since the numbers from the state Division of Insurance were so bad, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall’s office reportedly pressured the division to revise the numbers down. State Rep. Amy Stephens, a supporter of the exchange, nevertheless asked for a probe of the reports. Stephens, a Republican, is running against Udall as he comes up for reelection this fall.
While the exchange site launched without all the problems of the Obamacare site, it is not without controversy. If you do an internet search on the words “health” and “Colorado”, the top result will be an ad for the exchange. Like the federal exchange, Colorado’s is a tough sell and the state government is spending tax dollars to sell it.
Then there are the navigators—the agents who are selling the insurance. Colorado’s physician lawmaker Rep. Janak Joshi says safeguards must be put into place to protect people’s sensitive health information. “Having worked as a doctor for over 30 years, I believe that patient privacy is of paramount importance,” he said. “It’s outrageous that the government officials we trust to keep us safe would move forward with a program that lacks the most basic protections for Americans’ privacy.”
The irony is that the agents selling the Colorado policies are from a company in Arizona. That’s right: you can’t have a policy from outside the state, but the agents who sell the policy are from the outside. Democrats who talk about creating jobs in Colorado seem to have missed that opportunity.
According to federal rules, the Obamacare navigator program does not preclude groups or individuals convicted of fraud or identity theft from serving as navigators, even though these navigators have unprecedented access to the financial, health, employment and identification records of private citizens.
When three state senators were being recalled last fall, Democrats falsely claimed that grassroots petition-gatherers were felons. Now these same Democrats have allowed felons to handle Americans’ sensitive health data.
“With the continued refusal of Obamacare’s implementers to put identity theft safeguards into the navigators’ program, Americans have no reason to believe that their privacy will be protected.” said Christina Corieri, Goldwater Institute health care policy analyst. “It’s now the duty of state lawmakers to forge their own protections for citizens.”
If they are allowed to. So far this session, Democrats in Colorado are circling the wagons to protect the failing system they created.
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