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A healthy investment for Colorado

Dear Editors,

Coloradans cannot turn on the television without coming face to face with the health reform debate in Washington. But with so many conflicting messages from different interest groups, it is hard to know what to believe.

Over the past year, the New America Foundation along with the Center for Colorado’s Economic Future at the University of Denver conducted a study called “The Future of Colorado Health Care” to make sense of the chatter and to answer one fundamental question: do the economic benefits of health reform in Colorado outweigh the costs? We discovered that the answer is yes, health reform is a good investment for Colorado.

Even after accounting for the economic cost of financing reform, this new study demonstrates that it will pay off for Coloradans to expand health coverage and improve the way that care is delivered.

Health reform will stimulate the economy and create jobs. After considering the taxes necessary to finance reform, we found that expanding coverage to all Coloradans would lead to $3.8 billion in new economic output and 23,319 jobs. This is because a $1 investment in health insurance coverage leads to more than $1 in new economic activity.

For example, as doctors provide care to more patients, they will buy more medical supplies. This will translate into increased economic activity in the medical supply industry, as well as in health and non-health related industries that supply goods to the medical supply industry. In addition, expanding coverage would help lower-income Coloradans pay for health care, allowing individuals to spend more of their money on other goods and services in the economy.

The study also demonstrated that businesses and families will spend less on health insurance with reform than they would without it, if we also change the way we both deliver and pay for health care services. Reforming the health care delivery system in order to improve the quality of patient care and control costs could yield between $11 and $38 billion in additional savings. Translation: premiums could be 5.5 to 17 percent lower than they will be without improvements to the way health care services are provided, putting more money in the pockets of consumers and businesses.  

Lawmakers in Washington try every day to answer two critical questions: can we “bend the cost curve” to bring the growth of health care costs more in line with the growth of our economy, and can we really afford to finance reform in this economy?

Encouraging answers to both of these questions can be found in Colorado. Thanks to existing public and private collaborative initiatives, Colorado is one of the states best positioned to move forward with health care delivery system reforms and coverage expansion necessary to both increase access to care and help bend the cost curve. In particular, Colorado is leading the way to a more sustainable health system through integrated systems like Denver Health and cooperative communities like Grand Junction. Denver Health uses technology and efficient care practices to deliver high quality, coordinated care to some of the state’s most vulnerable populations. Meanwhile, Grand Junction capitalizes on its collaborative spirit to align incentives among providers, fostering a culture of coordination and team-based care that delivers some of the lowest-cost, highest quality care in the country. In short, Colorado is blessed with health stakeholder leadership at many levels that proves our nation can deliver better care for less.

Businesses in particular have a lot to gain from a more sustainable health system. In essence, Coloradans are already “paying a health care tax” because steadily increasing health insurance premiums contribute to less take home and less investment in the economy.

Health reform would make the investment people make in their health care more effective, putting their dollars to work for them. More insured Coloradans will reduce the costs hospitals must shift to businesses to compensate for the unpaid bills of the uninsured, and a more efficient delivery system will slow the rate of health care cost growth. In total, our estimates suggest that comprehensive health reform in Colorado could make employer-sponsored insurance premiums significantly lower – by as much as 24.8 percent – than they would otherwise be in 2019.  

Health reform is certainly a shared responsibility – households, governments and employers all have unique roles to play. Colorado is poised to lead the way, if its leaders and people are willing to invest in the most effective ways. Although health reform certainly requires an upfront investment, the commitment pays economic dividends down the road.

– Len Nichols, Health Policy Program

From Mancos to the Oval Office

An open letter to President Obama:

You campaigned on change, ending the wars, bringing our troops home and dedication to bringing peace throughout the world. “We, the People” believed in you, worked for you and made you our President. I now feel that you are part of the “government establishment,” caring nothing for this great country and our people, or what it used to stand for and what our WWII generation fought and died for. As everyone knows, these so-called wars cannot be won and are being continued for greed and power. They are unethical and illegal because they have never been declared as such by Congress, and set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Also noted in our Constitution is the fact that U.S. National Guard troops cannot be sent overseas to fight. Our Constitution has been degraded and overrun.

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Those of you who are controlling the military and medical industrial complexes will go down in history with shame as having destroyed America. Those of you in Congress who still believe in America can deny the funds for “the killing fields” and work to bring our troops home. It is past time to come to the aid of our country.

A very easy way to end this fiasco would be to offer air power, bomb the poppy fields to extinction, thereby ending the Taliban’s income to fund their battles and the illegal gun/drug trade faction in this country. Our drone planes directed from this country would be a much better way to do the job rather than killing innocent Afghanistan civilians and our young people.

– Evelyn Stacer, Mancos

Safeguarding local skies

To the Editors:

This Monday marks the 68th year since the “day that will live in infamy” – the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that plunged the United States into World War II.

Somewhat little known, however, is that only six days prior, a new civilian organization – still around today – was formed. It was not known at the time but this small group of aviation enthusiasts and patriots would make a significant impact on the war effort. Originally conceived of in 1939 by Gill Rob Wilson, the Civil Air Patrol during World War II flew over half a million hours and saved hundreds of lives of sailors and airmen, sighted 91 ships in distress, and sank two German U-Boats just off the coast of the U.S.!

In a small ceremony at the Colorado Guard National Armory on Tuesday (Dec. 1, 2009) members of the Civil Air Patrol – San Juan Composite Squadron gathered for their regular meeting time to discuss safety and search and rescue missions; practice drill; and remember the aviators that 68 years ago laid the foundation for what the Civil Air Patrol is today. In the tradition of service birthdays, a cake was cut by the youngest and oldest members present. The first piece was given to the oldest member present: Captain Roger Klinger – a CAP Mission Pilot. The second piece was given to the youngest member present: Cadet Airman Basic Mathew McLaughlin. “Thus, we symbolize a line of tradition, continuous and never ending; the previous generation to the new,” I said as the cake was passed.

As a prelude to cutting the cake, I talked about the CAP beginning and its “sub-chaser” missions during WWII and how many aspects of CAP were kept secret, thus no awards were conferred or public recognition given in the early years. This is familiar territory for me as grandfather was one of the “First 29” Navajo Code Talkers of WWII whose service was kept classified until the 1960s.

The Air Medal came about in 1943 and many pilots were on the list to receive the award. Pilots who had flown 200 hours of submarine patrol missions were generally recommended and approved. CAP pilots who had filled the gap from early 1942-43, flying in many cases 600 hours or more, were not listed to receive any awards.

However, supporters of the CAP knew of the efforts and risks of these brave men and women and pushed to have air medals awarded to them. So in February 1943, in a private ceremony in the Oval Office, President Roosevelt awarded the very first two air medals to CAP Major Hugh Sharp and CAP 1Lt. Edmond Edwards for the rescue of Lt. Henry Cross. Cross – a CAP “sub-chaser” – and his observer, Charles Shelfus, had gone down over the ocean 20 miles off Rehoboth Beach, Dela., at 4:50 p.m. on July 21, 1942. Within an hour, a CAP Sikorsky Seaplane flown by Sharp and Edwards was on site. The seaplane was able to land, despite poor weather and swells, but sustained significant damage to the left pontoon. Sharp and Edwards located Cross and loaded him into the plane. They searched for an additional 30 minutes but were unable to find Shelfus. The swells by this point were 8-10 feet, preventing the seaplane from taking off and they were forced to taxi back to shore.

Not long into the taxi, the damaged left pontoon had taken on enough water to sink it and keep the plane from continuing on. Edwards climbed onto the right pontoon and held onto the bomb rack under the right wing. For over two hours, he held the wing and balanced the plane being completely submerged several times. When the Sikorsky rendezvoused with the Coast Guard, Edwards was hypothermic but Cross had survived. The Coast Guard towed the plane and crew to Chinocoteague, Va. They arrived at 11: 45 p.m.

Many changes have taken place over the last 68 years. Today CAP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. In 1948, CAP was chartered by Congress as the official auxiliary to the United States Air Force and was charged with three missions: aerospace education, cadet programs and emergency services.

Today, CAP is not called upon to chase submarines. The days of taking anti-aircraft fire while towing a target drone as close as 1,000 feet are over. But today’s CAP boasts approximately 64,000 professional volunteers nationwide who carry on the tradition of service to our communities and the bravery and self sacrifice of those aviators.

CAP is credited by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center with an average of 100 saves per year, and performs approximately 90 percent of all inland search and rescue. There are over 1,700 CAP units throughout the U.S., with units in Durango, Cortez and Farmington. In

WWII, many tankers and aviators credited CAP with giving them the confidence to deploy, knowing that if they were downed, CAP would come to their aid. Today, in Colorado and across the nation, CAP is ready and here for you.

– Captain Michael Anaya-Gorman, CAP Commander



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