CO Lawmakers: Mandate Healthcare?

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

Should everyone in Colorado be required to have health insurance? One lawmaker thinks so, and he's sponsoring a bill that would lay the groundwork for mandated healthcare.

There is no mandate in Senator Bob Hagedorn's Senate Bill 217. What the bill is doing is asking the governor to set up a panel for information gathering. It's also asking health insurance companies to come up with no frills plans that are affordable, so they could be offered to the uninsured Based on what the panel finds, they could come up with proposals for new legislation, which could include a healthcare requirement.

But while the clock ticks on reform, thousands of people right here in Mesa County continue to live without healthchare.

Judy Williams is a mother of six and she can't afford health insurance.

"It's worrisome, you never know what could happen and you don't know how you can afford it (medical care)," said Williams.

She's on Medicaid and now her 20–year–old son Randy is no longer covered, atleast until he finds a job that offers benefits.

She's just one of more than 25,000 others in Mesa County and 48 million across the country dealing with the challenges of getting health care.

Some say CO Senate Bill 217 is the answer.

"It's thoughtful, it provides direction," said Reeves Brown.

Reeves Brown is the Executive Director of Club 20. The Western Slope advocacy group is supporting the bill.

Brown says if the state doesn't mandate healthcare, taxpayers will pay the price.

"We already have universal healthcare--it's called the emergency room. People can get care whether or not they are insured. It's inefficient and the most expensive link in the healthcare chain," said Brown.

Not everyone is convinced about the plans for reform. Senator David Schultheis says he doesn't like the idea of mandating anything.

"I'm usually against any legislation that has the government meddling in the health insurance market," said Schultheis.

Schultheis says encouraging more health providers to come to Colorado will drive down costs.

While the battle rages on at the capitol, people like Judy Williams are fighting their own battle.

"You could be paying bills for years," said Williams.

She's just hoping for a compromise and a better future for lher eight-month-old saughter Shelby.

The bill has already passed in the senate and it will be up for public hearing and a vote in a house committee on Monday. The bill's sponsor, Senator Bob Hagedorn told 11 News it could be a year or two before a healthcare requirement could be up for a vote.

To read the bill, click on the link below.

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