Opinion: Rep. Polis needs to recall his commitment to health care justice

Opinion: Rep. Polis needs to recall his commitment to health care justice

By Donna Smith

Solutions last week reported that U.S. Congressman Jared Polis, D-Boulder, will seek waivers from the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare insurance purchase mandate for his constituents living in some of the mountain towns. These waivers would relieve many people from paying the high premiums for health insurance coverage available on the ACA exchanges that reflect the mountain counties overall wealth and health care costs. Many of the people who most need coverage in those communities cannot afford the high premiums.

Rep. Polis is forgetting the simplest and most humane way to solve this problem is not to waive the requirement to purchase insurance coverage. The best way to solve the problem is to allow everyone access to health care through a system financed by a public, universal, single-payer model.

Rep. Polis was once a co-sponsor of HR676, the national bill that would improve and expand Medicare to cover everyone in the nation, regardless of age, geographic area or any other measure that the ACA model allows that produces differential premium rates and therefore limits access to coverage and care.

A White House spokesman indicated no waivers would be made based on geography because too many people who need health care might suffer. This, too, is a weak and misleading argument for or against waivers.

Health insurance is not health care. Health insurance is a financial product sold to all of us to protect health and wealth, which often does neither very well.

Perhaps Rep. Polis should chat with Sen. Max Baucus of Montana who had a special clause inserted in the ACA to give Medicare coverage to all the residents of Libby, Montana, after an asbestos-related health crisis threatened the health of thousands of people in Libby.

Thats right. There is one place in America where Medicare for all is a reality. The implementation had no glitches and no web failures, and the people were covered immediately.

So, you see, members of Congress know how to fix a broken health care system in the midst of crisis. They just need to be reminded that sometimes the shortest distance between two points really is a straight line.

Lets fight to get improved and expanded Medicare for all in Garfield and Summit Counties in Colorado and everywhere else too.

Donna Smith is executive director of Health Care for All Colorado. A former award-winning journalist, Smith has co-chaired the Progressive Democrats of Americas national Healthcare Not Warfare campaign since 2007. Smith also was featured in Michael Moores 2007 documentary, SiCKO, after she and her husband both became ill, lost their home to bankruptcy and had to move in with one of their six children even though Smith had health insurance at the time. Moore took Smith to Cuba to receive free care through the countrys universal health system.

Opinions communicated in Solutions represent the view of individual authors, and may not reflect the position of the University of Colorado Denver or the University of Colorado system.