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Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare

By Renee Parsons | CounterPunch | August 24, 2016

As the nation’s largest health insurance companies scale back  participation in  Obamacare (aka Affordable Care Act) creating what insurance jargon refers to as a death spiral, it was only a matter of time before state Democratic leaders and their agents announced their opposition to ColoradoCare (Amendment 69), a medicare-for-all health care system that will appear on the statewide November 8th ballot.

State Democratic establishment leaders who had already announced their opposition to ColoradoCare include Governor John Hickenlooper, former Governor Bill Ritter and Senator Michael Bennett who is running for re-election.

In an effort to salvage what is left of the President’s most significant (and perhaps only) legislative achievement as Obamacare struggles for relevance, ProgressNow Colorado (PN) held a press conference on August 17th (“ProgressNow Colorado Opposes Amendment 69, Calls For Nationwide Health Reform”) to announce their opposition to CC.

Featured speaker at the PN news conference was State House Majority Leader Cristina Duran, considered a ‘rising star’ who recently spoke on behalf of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention.   In 2016, it has been reported that Duran received campaign contributions from at least a dozen special interest groups associated with the health insurance industry.

In addition, Colorado NARAL joined the PN news event, again voicing their opposition to CC.   The lack of availability for abortions is what keeps NARAL functioning. The obvious irony is that if CC is adopted (which will allow abortions), NARAL’s raison d’etre will cease to exist and they will be able to close their doors.

Since it is essential for the President to have a functioning Affordable Care Act to top his Legacy List of accomplishments, it would be foolishly naïve to believe that the DNC’s fingerprints are not all over the opposition to ColoradoCare.

As the state’s ‘largest on line environmental and advocacy organization,’ the PN Colorado’s website identifies its vision to “act as a public relations shop promoting progressive ideals while pushing back on bad policies and bad behavior…”   The archives of PN press releases reveals the organization acting as a thinly-veiled extension of the neo-liberal Democratic party as a pr flack rather than an issue-oriented, independent thinking progressive organization focused on societal concerns of Colorado citizens.

Curiously, the PN press release called for “nationwide healthcare reform” but isn’t that what the Democrats offered as the Affordable Care Act in 2010?

Since March, 2012, PN has issued twenty press releases solely dedicated to the benefits of Obamacare including “Colorado Progressives Celebrate Upholding of Obamacare” (June 28, 2012) and “Colorado Progressives Celebrate Another Big Obamacare Victory”  (June 25, 2015).

In retrospect, it is now apparent that any mention of CC’s successful petition drive with 156,000 submitted signatures in October, 2015 was a deliberate omission by PN. Even as ‘Petitions Delivered Let CU Students Attend GOP Debate” earned a press release from PN on October 22, 2015,  the CC ability to secure a place on the 2016 ballot  (November 9, 2015), no small feat, was not applauded by the PN.

State Senator Irene Aquilar (also a doctor), one of the authors of CC, said that when “Organizations mislabeled as ‘progressive’ choose to support the status quo, choose moneyed influence over the lives of the 535 Coloradans who die each year because of lack of health care, it makes me angry.”

As the Colorado Democratic party has exposed its true nature; willing to choose narrow political gain and greed over the long-term health of their citizens, they have revealed little social conscience, except when its suits their partisan agenda.

But what do we expect from a party that has opened its doors to Wall Street money, big business that continues to send American jobs abroad, trade agreements that undermine a nation’s sovereignty, pro war neo cons, drone attacks on civilians, support for the MISI (military-intelligence-surveillance industry) and other corporate globalist leeches that care nothing about our native country or its citizens.

Originally dubbed in 2010 by the President as ‘comprehensive health reform’ and given the Act’s controversial nature throughout its short legislative life, it should come as no surprise that success of the Act relied on competition between insurance companies [and] has failed abysmally. The Act was never a panacea to provide health care; it was always a vehicle to provide insurance to cover health care costs. Therein lies a big difference between Obamacare and CC.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, competition among insurance companies will be completely absent in five states (Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming).

In what promises to be a futile attempt at a legislative fix, the Democrats have come up with a ‘reinsurance’ scheme to cover insurance industry losses while attempting to cover the cost of individual coverage. The mounting evidence, however, confirms that the politics of statutory resuscitation is formidable, if not impossible.

Apparently no one at the White House realized how many sick Americans there are, how expensive it would be to provide them with insurance coverage and that healthy Americans would prefer to take the risk and pay the penalty rather than pay double digit premium increases and exorbitant deductibles. Who did not see that coming?

Who believed that younger, healthier Americans would jump at the chance to sign up, take on health care debt on top of student loan debt – just to impress the President they had supported in 2008? My faith in the millennial generation is restored knowing they have the smarts to put the numbers together.

Some of those departing big leaguers who are abandoning their health care customers due to lack of profits include Aetna which covered 900,000 people in fifteen states and has announced a cut back to four states and suffered a loss of $300 M; Humana is cutting back its coverage from 1,350 counties to 156; Blue Cross lost $715 M in just three states and the nation’s largest health care insurance company, UnitedHealthGroup lost $450 M in 2015  and is cutting back to three states.

In late July, the Department of Justice filed suit to prevent the Humana – Aetna and the Cigna – Anthem mergers from taking place. By mid August, Aetna and Anthem informed the DOJ that they would totally pull out of Obamacare unless their mergers were approved. Any bets on whether these mergers will go forward after the Presidential election?

To date, 70% of the original Obamacare insurance participants have backed out because of financial problems with only seven of the original twenty three insurance providers still offering policies.

Those insurance companies not exiting the marketplace have announced premiums with a nationwide average increase of 24% that is not affordable for many families and yet many Americans have an urgent need for health care.

With a $600,000 bank balance, CC is up against what looks like a omnipotent wall of opposition not limited to such community-minded organizations as the Sheet Metal Workers Union, the Denver Center for Performing Arts, the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, all of which chose to publicly oppose the CC rather than remain in the background and thus support their fellow citizens who need reliable, affordable health care.

Meanwhile the main opposition group, Coloradans for Coloradans, which crowed about the Democrats joining the opposition, have collected $1 M from Anthem, $450,000 from UnitedHealthCare Services, Healthone Systems and Centura Health $250,000 each, Cigna Health $100,000, PHRMA $100,000, the Colorado Association of Realtors $100,000 and so forth – you might imagine the rest of the list.

Contributions from some of the very same insurance companies that have either pulled out or are dramatically scaling back their participation is indicative of how corporations can afford to sit and wait – until the Federal government sweetens the pot for their re-entry into the healthcare marketplace.

In addition, the Koch Brothers Americans for Prosperity are partners with the Democrats in pummeling  Amendment 69 into the ground. This may be the first time that the Koch Brothers and the Democratic party have officially and publicly lined up on the same issue, excluding campaign contributions.

If the Democrats (along with the medical care/health insurance industrial complex and Koch Bros) succeed in defeating CC, they can expect to take the blame for depriving Colorado citizens of an alternative to Obamacare which will predictably continue its spiral.

If, by some miracle of divine intervention, Colorado voters approve Amendment 69, they are telling the Obama Administration that they have no faith in the President’s Affordable Care Act, no faith in the Federal government to fix it  and no faith in the Democratic party to protect the public interest.

Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31

August 24, 2016 - Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , ,

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