Need for health reform goes on –regardless of fate of Affordable Care Act

One of the many things I admire about Colorado is that two of its top elected officials (Governor John Hickenlooper and Senator Michael Bennet) are alumni of my alma mater. I don’t think there’s any other state in the country where Wesleyan alums are so prominent in the political sphere.

The Governor has a thoughtful opinion piece in the Denver Post where he points out that the imperative for health reform will survive even if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is ruled unconstitutional or repealed. The cost of care, access to care and health care outcomes are all a big deal, not just within the health care system itself but in the context of the broader economic and social well-being of the state. Hickenlooper doesn’t come right out and say it, but the truth is that in most states (including my home state of Massachusetts), higher spending on health care has squeezed out initiatives in other priority areas like education –and lower taxes.

Colorado seems to recognize this. Its 2008 Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform set out a variety of mechanisms to address access, quality, and costs. Colorado has been implementing aspects of the Affordable Care Act, even though there is plenty of opposition to the law there. Rather than doing nothing and let the federal government step in and run the health insurance exchange, Colorado approved a Health Benefits Exchange.

It will be interesting to see what occurs if the Affordable Care Act is overturned or limited. Hickenlooper indicates the state will still move ahead on improving care, focusing on prevention and controlling costs. We’ll see what happens.

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