Bills aim to boost government role in Coloradans’ health care

Parker Chronicle: Guest Column by state Sen. Jim Smallwood

The 2019 Colorado General Assembly is vastly different from the past two years. The Democratic Party has a majority in both the House and the Senate, which means that the Republicans do not have enough votes to block any of the partisan legislation that is proposed. We are already witnessing a number of extremely controversial bills being introduced, such as restructuring of Colorado’s comprehensive sex education curriculum, firearm seizures, and several healthcare bills.

As the ranking member of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, I regularly see legislation that continues to attempt to insert government into your healthcare decisions. Historically, I have tried to support legislation that lowers healthcare and health insurance costs, improves access, and maintains high-quality care for all Coloradans. Ideally, I strive to accomplish this with the least possible level of government involvement. For example, last session I sponsored a bill to repeal the state healthcare exchange and allow our citizens to access the federal exchange as an alternative. This would have given Coloradans access to the same plans and rates as a state-run exchange, while saving Colorado taxpayers millions of dollars each year. Unfortunately, that bill did not pass.

The current Democratic majority is alternatively proposing laws that significantly increase government involvement in your healthcare options. This year, we will see two “public option” scenarios where the state government will compete against private insurance companies, a state-run prescription drug importation program, a state-run provider contracting scheme, and a state-run reinsurance program. I feel strongly that public option alternatives will ultimately reduce what little competition we have left in our state. As I said in my interview with Denver 7:

“My fear with allowing people onto the state of Colorado’s plan is it’s going to raise the cost for those who are already covered under the state of Colorado…Having sort of the referees be sort of one of the players would seem unfair in any sport.”

We all want affordable healthcare solutions for our state. I will continue to advocate for affordable healthcare that also provides high quality and patient choices. I believe the solutions do not involve more government, but instead a focus on individuals being allowed to make their own healthcare and insurance decisions with much, much more transparency around the cost of care from physicians and facilities.

Our state should be a leader in the free market solution. Not in bigger government failure.

The good news this session is there are bi-partisan bills that are being passed. My bill, Senate Bill 25, to teach the Safe Haven law in Colorado schools, passed the Senate unanimously. This bill will help educate the youth on what they may do if they are unable or unwilling to care for a newborn.

As we continue to work through these issues, I want to keep an open line of communication to anyone who would like to raise concerns, ask questions, or provide their input. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me anytime at 303-866-4869 or by email: senatorsmallwood@gmail.com.

Parker resident Jim Smallwood is a Republican state senator from District 4, which includes Parker, Castle Rock, Franktown, Sedalia, Castle Pines and much of Douglas County.