Colorado Medical Society

Cover: Candidate Perspective - Rep. Jared Polis

Saturday, September 01, 2018 12:00 PM

One of the biggest downsides of today’s polarized political climate is when we discuss the issue of health care, we sometimes get lost in the political stakes and ignore the costs to all of us – in both money and human lives. No matter your political beliefs, every single one of us has needed, and will again need, health care during our lives.

Helping Colorado families and small businesses save money on health care and gain better access to quality services is one of the main reasons I am running for governor. I believe that more can be done to bring everyone to the table – community leaders, patients, medical professionals and insurance providers – to create workable solutions for health care in Colorado.

Any proposal that lowers costs, expands coverage and improves the quality of health care for Coloradans is a proposal I will enthusiastically support.

I am proud to be running for governor alongside my running mate, Dianne Primavera. As a mom raising two little girls, Dianne was diagnosed with breast cancer and given five years to live. That was 30 years ago. Since then, she’s not only fought cancer four times and survived – she’s dedicated her life to fighting for affordable, high-quality health care for every Coloradan.

One of the first things we did as running mates was meet with families on the Western Slope to discuss the health care needs of families who have been struggling to manage the incredible health care costs with limited coverage.

We met with a woman whose daughter is on a five-month waiting list to see a specialist to manage her care. We heard from parents who fear they’ll never be able to retire because their savings were wiped out paying for their children’s medical needs, cancer survivors whose drug costs eat up most of their income and small business owners struggling under the costs of covering their employees.

These stories show us Coloradans aren’t interested in ideology, partisanship or slogans. They’re interested in solutions. We have lots more listening to do, but here are some of the solutions Dianne and I will pursue if we earn the privilege of leading our amazing state.

First, we need to immediately save Coloradans money. On the prescription drug front, we can tackle staggering costs by cracking down on pharmaceutical price gouging, requiring pricing transparency and enabling Coloradans to more easily import drugs from Canada, where the exact same medications often cost much less.

Second, we need to embrace innovation to level the playing field between consumers and the corporate entities we depend on for care.

One of the best ways to lower premiums and other costs is to partner with other states on a collaborative health care system that creates the largest possible risk pool. Larger risk pools reduce costs for consumers and for small businesses providing benefits to their employees, and provide greater negotiating power to get better rates on prescription drugs and other services. And we should take advantage of innovation waivers available through the Affordable Care Act, which will allow us to build a Colorado-centered health system that meets the unique needs of our communities.

Finally, it is critical to improve access and supply, especially in our rural communities. Too many Coloradans live nowhere near a provider for mental health care or other specialty services. Our plan calls for bringing more health clinics – including mobile clinics, community health centers, and satellite offices – and providers to rural and remote communities. And it calls for expanding access to telemedicine services that allow Coloradans to receive many kinds of care over the internet if they are unable to travel to meet with a provider in person.

We are never more financially or personally vulnerable – and politics is never farther from our minds – than when we or our loved ones are sick. Let’s get to work on real solutions that will bring truly affordable, high-quality health care to Colorado families in every corner of our great state.

Jared Polis is currently the U.S. Representative from Colorado’s 2nd district and the Democratic candidate for governor.