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Colorado on Top of Exchange Momentum

A long plane ride this week gave me some time to peruse some of my favorite blogs and daily updates. By happenstance, I read four in a row in which a common thread was the implementation of the ACA and in particular, insurance exchanges. Each article pulled me in a different direction but there were some unifying themes. I was reminded that while we’ve come a long way and are making great strides on providing coverage and access, we still have significant hurdles to overcome and need to bear in mind that there will still be remaining gaps to fill.

Eric Whitney's blog in Kaiser Health News highlighted Colorado’s health insurance exchange, Connect for Health Colorado (C4HC). C4HC goes live on October 1st and is being recognized nationally as a model for organizing and implementing an exchange. CEO Patty Fontneau and her team are to be congratulated! This article recognizes the significant work that has been done, but more importantly, perhaps, the bipartisan oversight which initially started as quite polarized. It’s an excellent example of how our state has bridged a wide range of divides to make the health exchange work by focusing on improving the lives of Coloradans. It’s exciting to see that our state is getting national recognition for putting differences aside and coming together to get people access to health coverage.

Washington Post's Sarah Kliff highlighted the opposite of what is happening in Colorado in her blog this week, and that is petty, partisan roadblocks to advancing efforts aimed at providing Americans with access to affordable insurance coverage. The exchanges are all about pro-competition and getting people coverage in the private insurance market. It was a conservative idea and yet some on the far right are setting up roadblocks for groups that are trying to help people get affordable coverage. The examples of laws and intimidation in Kliff’s blog frost me and seem like a desperate attempt to prevent Americans from seeing that the health insurance exchanges are designed to provide affordable choices for health care coverage.

David William’s Health Business Blog this week commented on a recent Wall Street Journal article about private businesses sending their retirees and other employees into “private exchanges”. These exchanges serve exactly the same type of virtual store for their former and current employees to make good purchasing decisions tailored to what best meets their individual and family needs. The momentum towards these private exchanges is growing dramatically and underscores that there is value in transparency, choice and competition. We should support similar efforts whether it’s in the private, state-run or federal exchanges.

And lastly, a Washington Post article painted a picture of why health care reform work is so important and how much there still is yet to do. People’s lives are at stake. It is a poignant reminder that the richest and greatest country in the world has a blind spot when it comes to providing for the basic needs of fellow human beings. The article tells a sad story of how wide the holes are in the safety net for those most vulnerable amongst us. It’s an area where we can and must do so much better.

About the Author: Phil Kalin is CIVHC's President and CEO. Contact him at pkalin@civhc.org.

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