By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Sen. Michael Bennet joined economists and community leaders Monday to make the case that the proposed Senate health care reform bill would lower costs and increase health coverage in the long term.
Bennet, D-Colo., argued that The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — the Senate’s health care reform bill that gathered the 60 party-line votes needed on Saturday to open floor debate on the plan — would contain costs in a fiscally responsible way. Bennet joined representatives from a group of consumer, labor and employer organizations to send a letter to leading U.S. lawmakers outlining their support for some of the reforms proposed in the bill.
“If we are going to solve the fiscal problems that threaten our economy and our kids’ future, we need to pass effective reform that will rein in skyrocketing health care costs,” Bennet said. “This bill will significantly reduce the deficit, bring down costs and provide affordable health insurance to all Americans.”
Americans for Prosperity State Director Jeff Crank said he’s embarrassed that someone with the business background that Bennet has would support the argument that the health care reform bill would reduce the deficit.
He thinks Bennet has become a vocal supporter of health care reform in order to help his election chances next year.
“I think Bennet is trying to figure out a way to save his political hide,” Crank said.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would reduce the deficit by $127 billion over the next 10 years.
The CBO has projected that the bill would cost around $599 billion to implement from 2010-19, but factored the costs in when determining the $127 billion deficit reduction.
The health care reform bill is expected to extend coverage to 31 million more Americans. But 24 million Americans would still be left uninsured, according to CBO.
Crank argued that a bill that costs almost $600 billion to implement while still leaving 24 million Americans uninsured doesn’t count as reform.
“It’s frankly kind of offensive to the taxpayers,” he said.
Bennet and other Democrats who support the bill, however, say that the skyrocketing health care costs that have been placed on families, workers, business owners and the nation’s economy is what’s offensive.
“Now is the time to put politics and special interests aside and enact meaningful, fiscally-responsible health care reform that will put our families, our small businesses and our country on a sounder footing for generations to come,” said Bennet.
According to Reuters, the debate on the Senate health care reform bill is scheduled to start on Nov. 30 and is expected to last at least three weeks. The House has passed its version of a health care reform bill. If the Senate follows suit, the differences between the two bills would have to be reconciled in January before Obama could sign a final measure.
Colorado in good shape?
Meanwhile, a new study claims that Colorado is in better shape than other states to fix its own health care system.
The study supported by The Colorado Health Foundation and The Colorado Trust claims that Colorado has more potential for substantial health care reform than any other part of the country. The study in part attributes Colorado’s strong potential for reform to Gov. Bill Ritter establishing the Center for Value in Health Care, a commission charged with looking at how health care could be reformed locally.
In turn, Ritter said that Colorado isn’t waiting for Washington to lead on the issue.
“We’re taking aggressive steps to contain costs, improve quality and increase availability,” he said in a statement. “We’re making great progress, and this study confirms our strategy is leading us toward a sustainable, affordable and secure health care system for Colorado’s families and small businesses.”
The report, however, says that the cost of doing nothing is not an option in Colorado. Colorado has the seventh-highest health care costs in the nation; health insurance premiums comprise 22 percent of the median family income, and premiums are projected to grow 10 percent a year for workers and employers, according to the report.
“Failing to enact health reform in Colorado will lead to higher health care costs, more uninsured Coloradans and higher health spending, especially by businesses,” says the study.
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters