Grassroots Radio Colorado, Brian DelGrosso, 6/01/2011

Station: KLZ 560 AM

Show: Grassroots Radio Colorado

Guest: Brian DelGrosso


Date: 6/01/2011

Time: 0:21:07

Topics: SCHIP, Medicaid, healthcare.

Click Here for Audio

Worley: With us on the line to talk about the bill yesterday that Gov. Hickenlooper decided not to sign, even though it seemed like kind of a compromise bill, is Rep. Brian DelGrosso. And I believe, Brian, give us your House District and remind us where you are at.

DelGrosso:  House District 51, which is pretty much the city of Loveland.

Clark: Alright Brian, before we go any further I have to ask: so Representative DelGrosso, do you twitter?

DelGrosso:  I do not twitter.

Worley:  You are probably happy about that right now.

Clark: Can I recommend that you don’t ever twitter?

DelGrosso:  I have soon too many people get in trouble with that. Quite frankly, I have so many other thing going on I don’t have time to go look at who is stopping where and where they are checking in and all those other stuff. I don’t have time for it.

Clark: Ill tell you what, I saw on Free Republic today that [Rep. Weiner] was twittering to porn stars and all these wonderful things. This guy well lets not worry about it.

Worley:  Like I said, it is just too amusing and we could go way too many bad places. So lets talk a little bit about the bill that was a compromise bill that had to do with the budget. People both sides compromised on this bill. Explain what the bill does.

DelGrosso:  OK, what SB 213 did, what we have in the state of Colorado is what is called S-CHIP, which is a state child health care plan. And basically, if you are a low-income family you can apply to get state health insurance. And before a year and a half ago it was based on the federal poverty level. So it went all the way up to 204% of federal poverty level.

Worley:  Which is? Do you remember what that is by chance?

DelGrosso:  Its like 22. So for a family of four you are looking at 22.5.  So not it goes from…a year and a half ago it changed from 205% to 250%. So they dramatically expanded that. So now you are looking at a family of four, 250% of the poverty level, you are making about $56,000 a year.  When we are talking about “the most venerable out there,” a family making $56,000, they are not taking trips to Mexico on that probably. But quite frankly, they are not living in a cardboard box on the side of the street either.

Worley:  No, and if you don’t live in downtown Denver, Cherry Creek or Boulder your actually probably doing moderately OK on that, depending on what city you live in.

DelGrosso:  Yea. But basically this plan, the way it used to be you would pay a one-time fee of $35 dollars to get on the plan. And we are talking about a Cadillac plan. You or I as an employer, you could never offer it. As an employee you would never get this kind of insurance. There is absolutely no deductable. You are talking from anywhere from $2 to $5 for a prescription or a doctors visit would be the copay. An emergency room or a surgery, you are talking anywhere from $3 to $15. And any kind of dental work would just be $5.

Clark: Dear God!

Worley:  Any kind of dental work?

DelGrosso:  Right, so you are pretty much talking a Cadillac plan for these people that are paying a one-time fee of $35 to get on and then those copays. So absolutely no deductable on insurance. We are talking a pretty good plan here.

Worley:  A ridiculously good plan.

Clark: I had rotator cuff surgery two years ago and out of pocket I spend $7,500.

DelGrosso:  And on this you would have spend $15.

Worley:  So if you go to the dentist and you don’t have this kind of insurance and you get a crown. It’s like $450 to $500.

DelGrosso:  Correct.

Worley:  And I have pretty decent dental insurance and that is still $450.  Wow.  So here we go, Hickenlooper jumping right back in with the big spenders obviously.

DelGrosso:  So basically what the compromise was, like OK…and keep in mind a year and a half ago these people didn’t have this coverage. So it was only a year and a half ago that this got expanded to 250%. So we are wanting to saw we need to start revamping. We got to cut spending and we are looking to try and revamp the programs that we have out there. So we are looking to start making people have some kind of skin in the game.  If you are going to start taking some of these services, we don’t feel it is inappropriate to ask you to start contributing a little bit to get some of these services.

Clark: I think that is only fair.

DelGrosso:  So what this actually came down to was you have to pay a monthly copay, a monthly fee of $20 for the first kid and then $10 for the second kid. So a family of four, keep in mind making over $50,000 a year, would not pay $30 a month for this Cadillac insurance plan. Which to me doesn’t seem like very much out of line to ask these people just to pay $30 a month for this kind of a plan.

Worley:  Have some responsibility. Come on, seriously.

DelGrosso:  But the argument that we got and it was pretty much the same reason why evidently Gov. Hickenlooper’s full press release on why he vetoed it, but it was the same argument that we got when we were arguing about it on the floor was these are families that are struggling. They can’t afford it. They can’t put shoes on their kids and now we are asking them to pay $20 or $30 a month. Even if you just put reality to it, going back to what you said at the beginning of our conversation on how much that crown cost. Or just going to a doctor now costs you $100 if you walk in the door. So if you got two kids, you are probably taking your kids to the doctor at least once a month anyway.   So this $30 will still save you money on what you would be if you didn’t have insurance. And the whole premise was if we start making people pay $20 or $30 a month for this, we were going to see thousands of kids that no longer have insurance because all of their parents were going to take them off insurance.

Worley:  Well hold on. This is great because this drives me absolutely crazy.

DelGrosso:  If you weren’t happy with the first segment, this one wasn’t going to make you any happier.

Worley:  No. Go look at ColoradoPols. And I can’t remember where I saw this, but research form around the country and in Colorado indicates that if children drop off the CHIP program, they would likely become uninsured. Well duh! But beyond that, the group that decided that people would drop off was a government group. It was somebody in the Governor’s office who did a study. So they justified keeping people on at the lower rates so they could spend more money. I mean, its self-fulfilling when you look at it Rep. DelGrosso.

DelGrosso:  Well they did that study based off of other numbers to because they had done this before in the past and they have done this in other states but this is based off of a lower income bracket. So people that are 100% to 200% of federal poverty. So people that are at the $22,000 range, not the people that are at the $55,000 range. So they were seeing a 20% drop-off with the very low income. But it wasn’t a true apples to apples. It wasn’t people making $50,000 a year, are we going to really see a 20% drop-off. So even some of their statistics are wrong.

Clark: Well both of you guys are parents, right? So you would think that the three top priorities at your household would be shelter, food and healthcare.

DelGrosso:  Yea.

Clark: I would think that nothing else would be more important than that and if you can’t buy them the Air Jordans you might have to settle for Keds. But they are still going to have shoes on their feet. I mean, it only makes sense that you cover the priorities first.

DelGrosso:  And I think that there was another thing in the governors statement talking about it was going to be an undue burden on business because now business were going to have to supply insurance to people in these income brackets. Which they are not now. And as an employer I was actually able to bring real world experience to this when we were having this debate. I offer health insurance to some of my employees who are in this income bracket and they do not choose the insurance I offer because, quite frankly, paying anywhere from $50 to $80 a month, I pay 70% of the premium, and that small amount that they would have to pay is more than free off of this program. So I have people who turn down the employer health insurance to get on this program and I think that was what Gov. Hickenlooper was saying. While there are a lot of people in that situation now that will be a cost on business. But quite frankly, asking people to have a little skin in the game is not inappropriate at all.

Clark: Well Rep. DelGrosso, you are on the joint budget committee. So you helped negotiate this deal. Is that right?

DelGrosso:  Yea I’m not actually on the Joint Budget Committee. I’m on the Finance Committee.

Clark: Oh, OK. Why did I write down Joint Budget Committee? Oh well.  So you’re on the finance committee. But you still had a hand in that.

Worley:  You are thinking about when he threw that lob in to mess up that whole PERA thing.

Clark: Yea that was a pretty good move. It seems like this was all part of the Long Bill, right?

DelGrosso:  This was a part of the long bill. This is something that the folks in the Senate were pushing really hard to get a lot of buy in. The Senate Republicans to get to buy in to the budget. The House Republicans heard that this was out there because it was a Senate bill. The House Republicans starting jumping on board. And if you heard that the Joint Budget Committee wasn’t going to reach a deal. They went sure if they were going t come to a budget deal by the end of the year and then bam we had a budget. There is a lot of behind the scenes wheeling and dealing and this was one of those bills that were in there. So if we want to have this, we want to have some type of welfare reform, some type of social program reform. And this was the first step in getting there. And this was defiantly a part of that deal.

Worley:  One of our listeners sent in a test, Rep. DelGrosso that said do you know how much the doctor gets from the state for this? Like he was saying, if he pays $5… well its not even a copay. Is it a $5 copay?

DelGrosso:  Actually, here is the thing. It’s a $5 copay on some of that but if you show that you don’t have the money with you, they wave that fee all together too.

Worley:  So in other words its basically socialized healthcare?

DelGrosso:  It is basically socialized healthcare. It’s kind of like Medicaid so the state does reimburse the doctors. I don’t know the exact dollar amount. It probably varies based on what procedure. I think it’s based off what Medicaid rates are. That’s why when the Medicaid, that was the big thing in the state that hurt us this last year is Medicaid expanded from 205 to 250[%], so this program also expanded from 205 to 250% of poverty.

Worley:  This is just incredible. Isn’t it also true that S-CHIP is for children?

DelGrosso:  Didn’t they say like up to 26?

Clark: No I think its 27.

Worley:  Yea, its way past…its not children to be honest. This is, you can almost have a cane…I could have sworn I saw someone say in a story that you could be married and if your parents still can claim you as a dependent because you live in their house or however that works, then you can still be on SCHIP. Does that sound familiar to you Rep. DelGrosso?

DelGrosso:  You know, I know it’s a high number. I can’t give you an exact amount. I don’t know all of the details of that. It is a pretty high age limits that you can be on there. So yea, we are not talking about just kids that are 5 or 6 years old. We are defiantly talking about older people as well.

Worley:  By the way, I know we have to let you go in a second here. The listener said he is going to go hang himself now.

DelGrosso:  [Laughter]

Worley:  Just so you know. People aren’t real happy about this stuff.

DelGrosso: Its like I said, we are asking these people to pay a small amount.  These families again, you can argue whether or not about safety nets or we take care of those that are most venerable, but those that are making 250% of poverty, so a family of four again that is making 50 some thousand dollars a year and asking them to then to pay $20 or $30 a month for this Cadillac plan that you or I cannot even get, it is just defiantly not out of line at all and it was defiantly a shock that the Governor vetoed that.