Grassroots Radio Colorado, Kevin Lundberg, May 10, 2013

Station:     KLZ, 560 AM

Show:        Grassroots Radio Colorado

Guests:       Lundberg  


Date:           May 10, 2013       

Topics:              Representative Amy Stephens, SB-200, Healthcare Exchanges, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, Health and Human Services Committee, Forbes Magazine, New Taxes, Medicaid, Colorado Benefits Management System, Single Payer, CO Senator Irene Aguilar, Tenth Amendment

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HOST KEN CLARK:  Let’s dive right into it, ladies and gentlemen.  This show is all about Colorado politics, and sometimes we do national politics, but, you know what?  One of my biggest pet peeves, those of you that listen to us regularly are very much aware of:  SB [11]-200, the healthcare exchanges!  What do they cost?  What are they going to do?  You know, it’s getting really, really ugly out there.  So, here to tell us all about it, the one and only, friend of Grassroots Radio, one of my favorite senators, Kevin Lundberg.  Senator Lundberg, welcome to Grassroots Radio. 

 COLORADO STATE SENATOR KEVIN LUNDBERG:  Well, thank you, Ken.  It’s great to be with you.

CLARK:  So, tell me, how much money is this train wreck going to cost us?

LUNDBERG:  I don’t know

CLARK:  Okay

LUNDBERG:  And let me tell you why.  Because last week — Tuesday of last week, we had a bill before us in Health and Human Services Committee.  And we had the Chairman of the Board to the Exchange, and we had the CEO of the Exchange, and I asked them, “So, tell me, what’s it going to cost? What is your budget?” And what they said to me, just to be really simple about all this, is, over the course of the next three years, it will take somewhere between 92 and 100 million dollars to both launch and sustain the Healthcare Exchange.  Okay?  That’s a pretty high number, especially when you look at about 60 million that they’ve already spent in ramping up the Exchange. 

CLARK:  Kev– Senator, I’ve got to stop you right there.   We’ve spent 60 million dollars, so far.  What do we have to show for it? 

LUNDBERG:  A bunch of software, I guess.  That’s about all, is they’re putting together this big IT project where they can process everybody.  And they said, “Well, it’s going to take about 100 million, initially.”  And those dollars come from a federal grant.  And then the ongoing expenses have to covered through some state supplied funds.  And that’s what we were looking at last week, was a bill that was going to  — not to go into all the details, would provide somewhere between twenty and twenty-five, twenty-six million dollars a year for the Healthcare Exchange.  Okay.  Well, that was last week.  This week, this Tuesday,– I also serve on the Legislative Oversight Committee for the Healthcare Exchanges, and we met Tuesday for them to present to us their grant proposal, which the Oversight committee is supposed to approve, — their grant proposal to the federal government for their final grant, which was what they had told me they were going to be asking for the week before.  And it amounted to – I don’t know, it was 40 or some million, or something like that.  Anyway, here’s what they told us this week.  It’s not going to be somewhere between 92 and 100 million.  It’s going to be 160 million dollars over the next 3 years. 

CLARK:  Wait a second.  It went from 92 to 100 million, to 160 million dollars, over the course of one week? 

LUNDBERG:  One week, yeah!  Now, if you figure that out on a weekly basis, it’s a 60 to 74 percent increase.  And when I asked them, “So, what’s up?”  they really had no answer.  They refused to give me anything that made sense at all.  The only thing they said was, “Oh, well, the question you asked the previous week was just our operating expense.  That’s not the overall expense.” So, I said, “Okay, I’ll go back and listen to the tape.”  I did.  Anybody who listens to it understands that they are giving a complete picture.  A week ago it was a hundred million or less.  This week, it’s 160 million.  I’m afraid to sort out what it might be next week.  So, if you ask me what it costs, I don’t know.  Just a lot more. 

SUBSTITUTE HOST JENNIFER KERNS:  So, Senator, you know, this is on top of the costs already to the American people and to the people of Colorado.  You’re looking at 1.1 trillion dollars over the next ten years for Obamacare, not to mention the twenty new taxes, according to Forbes magazine this week, that they’ve uncovered in Obamacare:  a 3.8% surtax on your investment income, and a nearly one percent surtax on Medicare taxes for individuals making more than 200,000 dollars a year, not to mention the 2.3% excise tax on medical equipment, and a 40% tax on comprehensive healthcare coverage, and new taxes that apply to flexible savings accounts as Americans.

LUNDBERG:  Yeah, and that’s just what we know about today!

KERNS:  Right.

LUNDBERG:  [laughs]

CLARK:  Well, Senator, I remember sitting in the hearing, and this was when the actual SB-200 was  going before the Senate, and I was testifying and you were on that committee.  And you took out your little laptop, fired it up, got on the internet, started keying in some stuff, and got – what, I don’t know, maybe twelve, fifteen different insurance quotes in a matter of minutes? 

LUNDBERG:  Correct.  And what they were telling us is, “Well, this way, there will – we’ll have this one-stop shop where you can go online and you can find out what medical insurance packages you can get here in Colorado, costs, and start plugging that in.  [laughing]  And my point to them is, “Yeah.  Well, been there, done that.”  It’s kind of interesting, too, I talked to a US Congressman who serves on the appropriate committees at the federal level, Congressman Phil Rowe, from Tennessee.  He’s a medical doctor.  And he told me the story of what he did when Obamacare was rolled out in his committee.  He took out his iPad, he keyed in a little bit of private information about himself and his family, and Voila!  There, in his home state of Tennessee was the same thing we found here in Colorado.  The private sector has already figured out that part.  That’s not really what Healthcare Exchanges are all about.  It’s not to provide this convenient one-stop shop system for medical insurance.  It’s first and foremost to filter people through the entitlement grid here in Colorado.  Because if you qualify for Medicaid, they will not sell you medical insurance.  They will require that you go to Medicaid.  And secondly, it is then, if you don’t qualify for the other benefits, it’s the way they dole out all of the federally funded subsidies for Obamacare, which is what all those taxes are supposed to be used for. 

CLARK:  That’s exactly right, Senator.  It is a delivery system for subsidies, end of story!   And it will expand to include welfare, Aid for Dependent Children, it will include all of this stuff.  They will force everybody, both employees, employers, and the general public, whether you’re under the poverty level or not, they’re going to force everybody into it.  Senator, I’m going to ask if you can stay over through the break, and I did want to remind everybody, I just did an interview with Fox31 [KDVR] News, talking about the IRS and how they are targeting the Tea Parties.  So if you can’t listen to the radios – well, that’s sort of an oxymoron!  Well, anyways, check out Fox 31 News tonight.  I’m going to be talking about that and I didn’t pull any punches.  We’ll be right back. 

CLARK:  […] Sitting in for Jason is Jennifer Kearns.  Welcome back, Jennifer!

KERNS:  Happy Friday!

CLARK:  If you’d like to join us on tonight’s show, 303-477-5600.  We have Senator Kevin Lundberg on the line.  We are talking about the funding for SB-200, the wonderful Healthcare Exchanges!  Now, one of the biggest reasons that we fought this thing so hard when it was being proposed – and by the way, thank you again, Representative Stephens!  I really appreciate the fact that you shoved this down our throats and forced Colorado into this.  And don’t – make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen, you cannot implement Obamacare into a state without the Healthcare Exchange.  Anyway, Senator Lundberg, welcome back! 

LUNDBERG:  Thank you.  It’s good to be here.

CLARK:  So what else have we got going on with this thing?  Please recap real quick to our listeners, some of them probably just joining us, this financial issue.   

LUNDBERG:  What we just spoke of was just the wild numbers they are throwing out as far as what it is going to cost to run the Healthcare Exchange.  Last week, in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee it – they told us it was going to cost 92 to 100 million dollars for the next three years.   This week, in the Legislative Oversight Committee for the Healthcare Exchange, they tell us it’s 160 million dollars, and they give no answer as to why there’s any difference between the two numbers.  It’s just a bait and switch, and I think –really, I think it’s just funny numbers that they don’t know themselves.  I think they’re flying by the seat of their pants.  And let me follow up on that, a little bit.  Because I have been following this very carefully from Day One when they rolled this out in the Senate a couple of years ago and have seen a train wreck from the beginning.  Two years ago I attended an informational system – or program that Federal Health and Human Services Department held for states in this area, for implementing the Exchanges.  And I walked away from there thinking, “They have no idea what they’re doing!”  They talked about setting up all their complex, super expensive um, uh –

CLARK:  Computers?

LUNDBERG:  Computer systems in – yeah!  — uh, software which takes years to develop, and they were going to set it up in —  oh, a few months!  [laughs]  And then the most telling thing to me of them at the federal level, is the guy that was really in charge of implementing all this, after giving all of this information to folks like myself, legislators from Region 8, several states around here, he announced that he was leaving and going into the private sector.  And I could tell that he did know what was happening, which is we don’t know what’s happening.  So, he was going to bail early, and did! 

CLARK:  Well, let’s remind everybody again, we talked about an article that we read a week or two ago, — I can’t remember how long ago.  But, it talked about the problems that they’re having inside the state trying to merge all of these different departments and different computer systems into the Healthcare Exchange.  Now, you’ve got the government computer and you’ve got the Exchange that was set up outside of the government, because they wanted it to be free market, […] which is an absolute joke, and so you’ve got all of these different inter-agencies, if you will, that can’t communicate with each other, they can’t network with each other, so I think – I believe there’s three different pieces that have to fall into place.  None of them are talking to each other.  None of them are integrating, because one is outside the government, one is inside the government and it’s supposed to roll out in what?—October?  Ain’t going to happen!

LUNDBERG:  Yeah.  And I’m told that Colorado is further along than anywhere else.

CLARK:  God, that’s scary!

LUNDBERG:  [laughing] It is amazing, and you know, the systems they’re trying to integrate this with, the biggest one is called CBMS, Colorado Benefits Management System.  And this is a boondoggle that we have spent a quarter billion dollars on in order to somehow “efficiently” – I put that in quotes, put all the benefits and the entitlements together that the state doles to people.  When they first rolled the thing out, counties that were supposed to be saving time, found that what used to take four hours to process now took eight hours.  [laughs] And the only cure was to hire more people.  Now, some years and multiple tens of millions of dollars of fixes later, I guess it’s sort of, kind of working.  But now they have to interphase that with this other computer system, and I can see – you know, that it’s just not going to happen! I mean, sure, they’re going to have something, but it’s not going to be what they say, and it’s going to cost more than people believe.  And at the end of the day, if you pile that on top of all of the dysfunction of what Obamacare does provide, and doesn’t provide, and what employers are supposed to do, and how much it’s going to cost them, I predict that within five years, this will all be history and we will be trying something else.  It may be a single payer, or should the Lord bless us – and I mean that literally, maybe we can get rid of all this stuff,  and start talking free market economics in medicine.

KERNS:    Well, Obamacare was intended to quote-unquote ‘help’ us.  And it reminds me of the quote from  Ronald Reagan, when he said, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”  I don’t know about you but when I think of going to a Healthcare Exchange, it makes me think of the DMV.  And as someone who is fairly new to Colorado and who has been to the DMV in downtown Denver recently, I can tell you that it took no less than an hour and a half just to get to the counter, to be served. 

LUNDBERG:  Well, and the scary thing is, the DMV is giving you a driver’s license.  The Healthcare Exchange is supposedly looking after your very life!

KERNS:  Right!  Right. 

CLARK:  Well, and you know, it goes back to the old adage:  “If you put the Government in charge of the Sierra Dessert, in two years, they’d be out of sand.”  They would have a sand shortage.  They really would.  You know, it’s interesting, Senator, because we did see this coming.  We have seen this coming.  It is my opinion and I – this is an opinion that is shared by a lot of other people:  Obamacare, these Healthcare Exchanges, the entire thing was designed to fail!  The reason it was is so they can push us into a single-payer socialist system.

LUNDBERG:   Ken, I think you really have nailed it there.  That it has been so apparent to guys like me, who – you know, I’m not involved in the inner circles of the federal government’s development on this.  I’ve just been watching it!  And there’s no way anybody who really knows how this stuff works, there’s no way they would have designed the system with all of this in mind.  It will collapse of its own weight, and we will be forced into something.  We have to prepare to go the right direction, rather than just, you know, be drug into the big Socialist Empire that far too many public policy makers think is the bright new tomorrow.

CLARK:  Senator, we got a glimpse of the direction they want to go.  Don’t forget!   Senator Aguilar […]put forth a bill, a single payer bill for the state of Colorado, and who knows, after what we’re seeing with the Healthcare Exchanges, 37 billion dollars a year for single payer in the state of Colorado might be a savings! 

LUNDBERG:  [laughs] well, except for the fact that it won’t be, because it’s the government running it, again.  You’re right!  You’re right.  People like Senator Aguilar are really asking for something else.  I’m reminded of  Senator Nicholson.  When they – let’s see, it was Aguilar’s bill that increased the number of people who would be on Medicaid–expanded the enrollment numbers, and Nicholson voted for it, saying, “I’m supporting this because it’s one more step towards that single-payer system.” 

KERNS:  You know, this is why I think the GOP in Colorado – and some of your fellow members,
Senator Lundberg, have gone astray.   We can’t fall for the liberal line that we have to help this, this is now the law of the land, we have to do this.  That is simply aiding and abetting.  In my opinion, what Amy Stephens did was aiding and abetting this administration to force us into a government controlled system.  I think that’s wrong.  I think it’s wrong from a marketing perspective, which is what I do for a living.  You have to provide differentiation out there to voters. 

LUNDBERG:  Right. 

KERNS:  We can’t aid and abet this administration. 

LUNDBERG: Well, and if you’re heading down the wrong road, you’re not going to cure it by going faster, or continuing down that road.  You have to stop and change directions.  And those people who say, “Well, let’s just find some combination.  Let’s make it work within our framework,” haven’t really seen – those folks have not seen the real direction and the real design of all this.  We have to stand up and firmly say no, we are not going to do this, we can’t!  And, of course, for whatever role the state legislature plays, we can only accomplish that if we get a new legislature in place. 

CLARK:  Well, that’s — Senator, you’re exactly right. And I get a little tired of them trying to sell us on the idea that, number one, this is free-market.  Number two, this is a 10th amendment issue, because if we do it now, if we do it ourselves, then we can control the Healthcare Exchange.  And one of the dirty little secrets, — there are four dirty little secrets in this Healthcare Exchange that are starting to play themselves out, but the worst one was, in 2014 the Feds are going to take it over, anyway.  So, it really didn’t matter what we did.   SB-200 was a seventeen page bill.  We all read it, backwards and forwards.  It did only three things:  funded it, set up a board, and allowed them to write five pieces of legislation.  That’s it!  Since then, they have been making it up as they go along and as we can see, they have not been doing it well. 

LUNDBERG:  No, and they’ve been just following the directions from the Feds.  So, there — yeah, there’s no independence here.  It’s —we’ve really signed our own bondage over to the Federal government in this area, as long as it’s in place.  And I’m telling people that because it’s so dysfunctional, something is going to change, and we’ve got to prepare for that point in time and stand up and say, “No, thank you, at all! We are going to but the people back in charge of their own medical care, not the Federal government.”

CLARK:  I couldn’t agree with you more, Senator.  Thank you for coming on to Grassroots Radio Colorado with us tonight.  The only issue I’ve got is, we’ve got a train wreck, now.  They’re going to be looking at a 747 coming down and crashing into the top of this train wreck, and that’s going to be their next solution.  We’ll be right back.