Colorado Matters, Bill Ritter & Bob Gardner, June 29, 2012

Station:    Colorado Public Radio

Show:      Colorado Matters

Guest:      Ritter, Gardner


Date:        June 29, 2012

Topics:     SCOTUS, Supreme Court Ruling on ACA, Obamacare, Health Benefit Exchanges, Federal Regulations, Ned Calonge,

Click Here for Audio

[The following are notes taken from the audio interview]

Host (Ryan Warner) Commentary:

  • Colorado’s creation of exchanges was a way of finding a local solution, to avoid federal government imposing their solution.
  • Benefits acc. to Ned Calonge (the CO Trust, former state Med officer for Owens and Ritter):  [from archived audio clip played during this interview] ACA as envisioned, by 2019 we’ll see significant savings (2000 dollars a year less for individual – $4000 for family) and economic and job growth (19,000 new jobs and econ increase of 1% more than otherwise

Guest Commentary:   Rep. Bob Gardner (Rep) oversees the creation of healthcare exchanges in Colorado as member of committee in statehouse

  • (reaction to SCOTUS ruling)  agree with Ritter in only one aspect:  a historic decision
    • Disappointed
    • Tax ruling is contrary to what BO admin claimed during legislative process
    • Crossroads in election season:  betwn  trillion healthcare tax that leads to social welfare state, or will we chose to be a state with a market driven health care system
    • American people have been hoodwinked
  • (will you move forward in earnest to pursue Health Benefit exchanges)  Health Benefit Exchanges have advantages and benefits for small businesses in free market… but these exchanges were co-opted into Obamacare and they bring with them a huge amount of federal regulation.
  • To pursue exchanges necessarily advances Obamacare – Gardner disagrees that this is the case.  BG is reluctant to say, “yes, we can move on out (and ahead with pursuing Health Benefit Exchanges)” because he needs to analyze the SCOTUS decision and see if we can implement original exchanges that were free of the federal requirements and regulations.  They are necessarily going to have to have some [regulations], but given the SCOTUS decision, we are going to have to do something and BG would prefer that “something” be a “Colorado solution” and that it promotes access and affordability, and as chair of that committee he needs to analyze the info to see if that is possible.
  • (in re: to overburdensome fed regulation) Colorado is out front, in the sense of resisting these regulations.   We may not be able to completely resist federal regulations but to the extent that we can, BG intends to continue the work that they’ve started.
  • Doesn’t buy Nick Colange’s analysis… savings by 2019 are overstated.  Other countries with government run healthcare never showed a similar trend.  Americans will find more mandates in obamacare, healthcare tax is going to grow, or alternatively, if it doesn’t grow, logic leads to surmise that people won’t carry coverage.  People will sign up when they are really really sick.  It will be cheaper and economically better to not carry health insurance.  People are economic beings,… it will be an absolute disaster, one way or another.
  • Disagrees with Ritter that system is broken:  We have best healthcare system in world.  We have severe problems with access and affordability. And the problem will be that Obamacare will wreck the best healthcare system in the world and it won’t address adequately the problems of access and affordability.

Guest Commentary:  Bill Ritter (D) As governor 2007-2010 — worked to expand the healthcare coverage of Coloradans.

  • Republicans in Congress argued that is was a tax, Dems said it wasn’t, but Administration gave various arguments in Supreme Court hearing to uphold it… the tax designation of the individual mandate penalty was not their strongest argument
  • Nothing about this bill has changed.  It is a mandate with penalty for those who don’t participate.
  • (will the tax characterization make it harder to sell for Dems?)  I don’t think so,… nothing has changed I don’t think that the fact that they called it a tax will make it any harder for Dems to defend…
  • CO is in top tier of states (one of 10 states) to put state fingerprint on healthcare exchanges.  Congrats to Hick and bipartisan effort in legislature to lead on this
  • Every part of this issue is controversial,… hotly debated, heavily politicized, a long way to go in implementing this act. Variety of steps states will need to take
  • In order to avoid over-encumbrance on states by federal regulations, other states need to do what CO has done:  Common-sense solutions, bi-partisan solutions, middle ground solutions, hopes that statehouse continues to do as they’ve done
  • Respects Calonge’s authority and experience, says economic predictions are sound, but it’s hard to predict the future.
  • But this much we know:  Healthcare system in America is broken. In industrialized nations, healthcare doesn’t cost so much and performs better than here where it gets dismal results, relatively.  Americans believe that the system is broken… There will be a lot of criticism about this political solution to a very serious issue