Commission seeks input on health care reform

— Nearly 800,000 state residents - nearly a quarter of them children - have no health insurance, according to estimates. With public opinion polls listing health care as a top concern, the state Legislature created the Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform.

The commission's task is to make recommendations to lawmakers on comprehensive health care reform "with the goal of increasing health care coverage and decreasing costs for Colorado residents."

Before making the recommendations, which will happen in January 2008, the commission is asking for public feedback. Later this month, commission members and representatives will be in Craig seeking opinions from the community.

"As we develop our recommendations for legislators," the commission reported in a press release issued Sunday, "we want to hear from people throughout the state about what matters to you."

The local meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Holiday Inn of Craig ballroom.

The meeting was originally scheduled to take place at The Memorial Hospital's Platinum Conference Room, but was moved to the hotel in response to public demand, the commission reported.

The commission asks attendees sharing their views to limit remarks to three minutes and structure comments around what role individuals, employers, government and health care providers should play in providing or assuring health care access.

It also seeks opinion on recommendations contained in five proposals under review for health care reform.

The commission sought reform proposals from parties around the state and received 31. Of that lot, four were chosen for evaluation.

The Service Employees International Union, Colorado State Association of Health Underwriters, Committee for Colorado Health Care Solutions, and the Health Care for All Colorado Coalition, crafted the four plans.

The commission designed the fifth plan.

At least one group, comprised of members from the local area, has made its position on health care reform known.

Club 20, a Western Slope political coalition, announced last month that its board of directors adopted a formal position to lobby on behalf of a requirement that "all persons should be required to obtain coverage for basic health care services if such coverage is available and affordable."

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