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Opinion Columns

Opinion: The public option plan isn’t sustainable for Colorado and jeopardizes access

Centura Health's CEO says employers could be encouraged to drop health coverage under the public option plan

Everyone has encountered and maybe experienced a problem with their health care. My own family included.

Health care is complex and it’s expensive — too expensive. Out-of-pocket costs are crippling for most families. Navigating the health care system is difficult at best. It isn’t transparent like the rest of our shopping lives.

Many Coloradans are without coverage and access, despite national reforms. Today, consumers are telling Centura that they want and need health care that is affordable, accessible and transparent.

Peter D. Banko

Viable solutions in our state have been slow coming, so the “Public Option” for Colorado sounds enticing for consumers, if it actually works.

The reality is that the plan, as proposed, isn’t sustainable, has unintended consequences and jeopardizes access. The proposal does not address adequately Colorado’s uninsured rate. It will not reduce premiums for low-income consumers purchasing coverage on the exchange.

All the proposed savings would be paid solely by deeply slashing payments to hospitals. Equally concerning is this plan may encourage employers to drop coverage.

More broken promises after the state’s reinsurance program finds itself more than $160 million under water before it even launched.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Centura’s legacy of care runs deep in this region. We truly are standing on the shoulders of the women and men who founded our ministries in the late 1800s, and their legacy is alive today in our 21,000 caregivers.

Our 138-year faith-filled journey has been all about going to where others are unwilling to go. So, simply saying “no” to the proposal currently on the table isn’t an option for us.

We believe sustainable, long-term solutions that deliver real savings for Colorado families should adhere to four principles. First, relief needs to be provided to the uninsured. Solutions need to be built for those who really need coverage and access. Consumers need to be assured of target premium reductions. Finally, all stakeholders need to be enlisted and held responsible for making health care more affordable.

This isn’t a time for politics. Most certainly, it isn’t a time to rush the process. It is a time to put sound policy into action that creates wholeness and health for every life, every neighborhood and every Colorado community.

Centura is firmly committed to working with the governor, legislators, regulators, our health system colleagues, health plans, the business community and consumer groups to develop and implement approaches with savings that truly end up in the wallet of Coloradans.

Peter D. Banko is President and CEO of Centura Health.