As a state senator, I have dedicated my career to making life better for my state and my community. As part of that work, one of my main focuses has been on improving our state’s health care system, and I’ve worked hard to help ensure more of our neighbors can access the care they need to thrive.
But little did I know when I began my journey in public service that, one day, I would find myself relying on Colorado’s amazing health care providers to save my life.
Recently, as I returned from leading a training session in Milwaukee for work, I became extremely short of breath and dizzy while leaving the plane. When I reached the boarding area, I fainted, and when I woke up I was surrounded by concerned passengers and paramedics.
I was rushed to UC Health with abnormal blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. My team of excellent doctors at UC Health diagnosed me with an autoimmune disease which, over time, had led to the development of pulmonary hypertension and put incredible stress on my heart.
My condition is rare, and 20 years ago, this disease would have been a death sentence. But today, due to advances in science and medicine, I will still be able to live a long, happy, and productive life — albeit with a port intravenous tube, connected to a pump, that will continuously deliver life-saving medicine to my heart for the rest of my life.
A life-changing diagnosis like this is scary. But I am incredibly grateful for the team at UC Health who has been with me every step of the way, and who will continue supporting me as I move forward.
It’s also a reminder that the level of care I’ve received simply isn’t available to every Coloradan right now. Our health care system is broken, and while we’ve made great strides in recent years, we still have a long way to go to ensure that everyone can access and afford the quality care they deserve.
As a state lawmaker, it feels strange to experience the results of legislation you’ve passed firsthand. Last session I championed a bill — House Bill 22-1370 — which makes life saving prescription drugs and health care, like the kind I now depend on, more affordable and dependable. The bill puts doctors in charge of a patient’s treatment — instead of insurance companies — by limiting the number of times a patient has to try and fail a treatment that their insurance company prefers before they can pursue the treatment their doctor recommends.
For someone dealing with a new diagnosis like myself, this protection is critical, and it has allowed me and my doctors to find the right treatment plan for my condition without having to jump through too much red tape.
HB22-1370 also ensures that patients know what they’ll be expected to pay for prescription drugs by requiring that 25% of health plans establish a set dollar amount for co-pays instead of unpredictable percentage-based coinsurance, saving people money and providing certainty to patients adjusting to their new reality. It also ensures that once you have a prescription drug that is working for you, you can’t be forced to change to a different one in the middle of a plan year.
This bill is just one of the many ways we have worked to make health care more affordable and accessible during the 2022 legislative session, and I can say with 100% certainty that it’s already making a difference in the lives of everyday Coloradans.
But there’s more we can do to make prescription drugs even more affordable, to address the health care provider shortage plaguing our state, and to connect folks receiving life-changing diagnoses with mental-health care to help them cope and move forward.
Our families and our communities deserve the best, and they need health care that works for them, not against them. I am going to continue fighting for those reforms and more to ensure that every Coloradan has access to the quality, affordable health care they deserve.
Faith Winter, of Westminster, represents District 24 in the Colorado Senate.
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