If you’ve stayed current on the Obamacare-controlled and misnamed “state health-care exchange” repeal effort over the last three years, then you know it has been an uphill struggle. The first repeal effort in 2012 only had five Republican co-sponsors with a then influential GOP House member, the exchange bill’s original sponsor Amy Stephens, fighting to crush any chance of repeal.
The Third Attempt to Repeal Colorado’s Health Exchange was on January 29, 2015
This third attempt, presented on 29 January, 2015 to the Colorado House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee, brought the GOP fully in line for removing this now proven failure as twenty four Republicans put their name on the repeal to remove this massive and still growing burden on Colorado citizens. It is not a state exchange, but a federally controlled disaster being forced upon the shoulders of Colorado citizens.
What was victory to look like when the final committee votes were taken? While we did not expect the repeal of the exchange to gain any defections among the ideologically-driven Democrats who make up the majority on the committee, obtaining for the first time a strict party line vote would change the dynamics of ownership and responsibility for the negative impacts of Obamacare exchange fiasco in Colorado.
I am thrilled to report that every GOP member of the Health, Insurance, and Environmental Committee voted for repeal and were solid in their arguments detailing how the state exchange is not a Colorado solution, but a federally imposed intrusion on our rights and is aiding in the destruction of quality healthcare for all of Colorado.
This is a win.
Momentum is clearly on the side of real private sector solutions and not the Washington imposed intrusion of the federal exchange system now operated by Connect for Health Colorado; a federally controlled bureaucracy operating under the guise of a state exchange. Connect for Health Colorado has become nothing but a nice sounding marketing brand for Obamacare.
The Socialists have learned from previous debates on government health-care. In the hearing, they attempted to be clever in framing Representative Janak Joshi’s repeal bill as “surrendering to the federal government.” They asked, “If we repeal the state exchange, doesn’t that force the federal exchange on Colorado?” However, they were too clever by half. Connect for Colorado declared, to the head nods of the Democrats on the committee, the exchange to be a “Colorado Solution”, but that is in no way true.
Here is why: The “state exchange” is really just the federal exchange wrapped in a Colorado flag. Customers are given no choice in what they may purchase other than the federally mandated health plans; plans citizens are forced to buy or face the IRS shake down of up to 1% of a family’s income to be paid in “fines” for failing to do so; money stolen to facilitate the redistribution of income from the citizen to the federal government, and in this case for no service other than serving government coffers.
“What happens if the state exchange were to be repealed?” the Democrats asked. If the state exchange were to be repealed, nothing changes for the Colorado citizen as our plans are Obamacare plans controlled by Obama’s Health and Human Services. There is no Colorado solution for the citizen, there is no flexibility claimed by Connect for Colorado; there is only a Washington mandate.
The lone casualty of the repeal is the bureaucrats’ fat wallets.
The only true casualty of the repeal is the bloated and ever expanding bureaucracy required to run the exchange; an entity which has already cost over 200 million taxpayer dollars in its short three years of existence, and which is fostering an entire industry now making its living on the backs of the taxpayer. It is perpetuating the exchange for the exchange’s sake.
Connect for Colorado made this part of their testimony saying that “If we repeal the exchange, exchange jobs will be lost.” However, every Democrat Party member of the committee agreed with Dr. Mary Zennett’s testimony that “the quality of patient care has declined since implementation of Obamacare and the exchanges.” Dr. Zennett clarified that the exchanges are not about healthcare, but they are only about growing the failed exchange system.
Connect for Colorado and its supporters crowed about increasing the numbers of Medicaid patients it has signed up through the state exchange. It is their crowning achievement. Medicaid has been around for 50 years, but Connect for Colorado is proud to be spending hundreds of millions of millions to enroll people into an existing long standing program as if it were a well kept secret until the exchange came into existence. Connect for Colorado made no case for the need to continue the “state” exchange other than to service federal mandates, a “service” costing fortunes in mounting tax burdens to all of us.
The taxpayer pays $50,000 for each person signed up on the exchange.
The federal Office of Management and Budget released a report in January showing it costs the taxpayer $50,000.00 for each person who signs up for either the federal or state exchange. For that kind of money, professional health-care experts could be assigned 24/7 to every person forced into exchange plans making Colorado citizens insurance experts within months and eliminating the need for the exchange and its “navigators” to “guide” them through process of buying their own insurance.
Repealing the state exchange is beneficial to Colorado, as it eliminates our growing fiscal burden of running the system for the federal government. In truth, Connect for Colorado would just change their office signs to the less deceptive name of Connect for Obamacare with no jobs lost and their self-licking ice cream cone intact, perpetuated for the life of Obamacare.
Was it accurate to state earlier that the “Socialists” have learned from previous debates on government health-care? In testimony, Connect for Colorado removed all pretense of the exchanges being a “Colorado” or free market solution as the original exchange bill proponents claimed, stating for the record the exchanges are needed because “the free market system does not work for everyone.” Their solution is for the Colorado Democrat-controlled House to force the government solution on all of Colorado, based on the false claim free markets do not work. The term “Socialists” is earned.
Republicans successfully blasted the merits of ObamaCare and the exchange.
There were many highlights during the four hours of testimony. For those who understand the damage being done by nationalized health-control, there are many “Thank you’s” to be sent. The Republican members of the committee were excellent in their refutations of Obamacare and its vehicle exchange system:
- Representative Joshi, the bills Sponsor, gave the Democrats on the committee a case of the vapors when suggesting Colorado assert control over its own healthcare system under the 10th Amendment by pushing back against the many federal intrusions on our rights through the destructive mandates imposed by Obamacare via the state exchange.
- Representative Brown clearly made the case that the exchanges are not a Colorado driven enterprise, but in reality nationalized health-control.
- Representative Ramson asked the right questions in driving home free market solutions and in pointing out having “insurance coverage” through Medicaid or federally mandated plans does not equal quality health-care.
- Representative Humphrey presented an excellent closing statement on why the federally controlled state exchange is wrong for the citizens of Colorado.
- Representative Lois Landgraf offered a great summary of why she voted for repeal echoing the truth of a federally imposed system.
- Representative Gordon James Klingenschmitt so infuriated the “for socialist healthcare” proponents through his questioning in exposing they had no real answers as to the exchanges continued ineffectiveness, Connect for Colorado’s head cheerleader, having left early, began texting the committee chair complaining Rep Klingenschmitt was wrong (in asking questions it seems). He offered a great close on the failures of the exchanges and went out of his way to thank the citizens negatively impacted by the exchanges who came to testify to counter testimony of those who now make their living keeping the exchange alive.
Hurting citizens and medical professionals stepped forward with their own testimonies about the exchange.
The GOP legislators were not the only ones making the case for real solutions as citizens impacted by the imposition of Obamacare stepped forward:
- “Jeanie” testified she had a direct pay plan though a religious based share plan relieving her from participating in the government program. The socialist healthcare committee members were shocked to hear those are exempt from Obamacare. When she informed the committee it cost her a onetime fee of $300 then only $180 a month and in fact real doctors accept “cash” for services without any government help the shock on their faces was cartoonishly visible. Very literally their eyes got wide and their mouths flopped open. They could not fathom something could work so well without government at its core.
- Doctor Mary Zennett painted a horrific picture of how the burdens of government regulations are destroying her ability and the ability of physicians across the country to effectively treat patients. In an attempt to appear to show compassion and understanding for the plight of hard working doctors on the front lines of providing health-care, the Democrats all expressed their concern for the ineffectiveness of the system and the need for reform admitting, unknowingly or in a rare moment of unguarded truth, government control is no solution.
- Scott Rankin, a Colorado insurance broker, was excellent in showing the Colorado exchanges primary function is to force federal control over health-care in Colorado.
The exchange exists for the sake of the exchange. And to take your money.
At the end of the day, the main argument for not repealing the state exchange came down to perpetuating the exchange for the sake of the exchange. No testimony was provided saying the quality of care in Colorado has improved since its implantation, instead all sides agreed the quality of care had declined.
There was no defense from Connect for Colorado concerning the well documented personnel problems of the exchange and its costly IT problems costing millions of taxpayer dollars causing many thousands of Colorado citizens to have their polices canceled nor any indication when or if these problems will ever be corrected. The state exchange serves no purpose but the continued implementation of the socialist nightmare that is Obamacare.
Bi-Partisan Exchange Bill? My Eye!
There is a continuing falsehood expressed by the proponents of the exchange and continued by Colorado media outlets. The notion that SB11-200, which created the exchange in Colorado, was “bipartisan”. Nothing is farther from the truth. Bi-partisan implies the two political party’s negotiated and agreed upon a mutually beneficial outcome. SB11-200 passed the then-Democrat Party controlled Colorado legislature because a very few lawmakers within the GOP party abandoned the principles of their own party and forced the will of the Democrats on all of Colorado.
We owe thanks to Representative Janak Joshi for his leadership and perseverance in keeping repeal movement alive in Colorado. His efforts have gone from a source of scorn from some members of the GOP to now moving the ball to the point it is now clear that only radical total government socialists in Democrat clothing want it forced on Colorado, at a cost of untold millions in taxpayer dollars and the destruction of quality healthcare for all our citizens.
With the strict party line vote which occurred 29 January, 2015 to retain the state exchange, the Democrats on the Health, Insurance, and Environmental Committee have accepted full ownership of the disaster that is our federally controlled exchange insurance debacle for the Democrat Party in Colorado. While this in itself does not fix the issues associated with the exchange, it does set in motion the means for real political opposition to nationalized health-control in Colorado. The proponents have been exposed for what they are: proponents of socialist control over our lives.
After 3 long years, the Colorado Republican legislature is finally united in the fight against Obamacare.
* Look for Michelle Morin’s upcoming article as she looks at State Exchanges “financials” to see just what it is costing Colorado taxpayers to fund Connect for Colorado’s expensive self-licking ice cream cone.
Don Rodgers has been an influential political activist and leader in Colorado for 8 years. He is the founder, leader, and organizer of the local 9-12 Project Pikes Peak Patriots, and a military veteran. Find Don on Twitter and Facebook.