EDITORIAL: Ending Colorado health insurance exchange might not be bad — but not now

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A Colorado Republican-led effort to close the state’s health-insurance exchange may not be a bad idea, but it’s a likely public catastrophe to attempt it now, and the charge misses the real issue.

Senate Republicans this week were successful in dragging a misguided plan to close Connect For Health Colorado out of a legislative committee on a party-line vote.

The idea of closing the exchange, saving state tax dollars and consolidating it with similar national program has real merit, but not now. With the future of American health care under the Affordable Care Act in absolute limbo, closing the exchange now could prove disastrous for Colorado residents and costly, too.

It would be hard to convince even the most religious of state residents that even God has a clue what Congress and President Trump will do to Obamacare. All signs point to the country most likely coming full circle on a GOP obsession with killing Obama’s signature presidential act, and coming to the conclusion Congress did six years ago. If we’re going to keep the faulty American system we have, Obamacare is the only answer. In all likelihood, what Republicans will end up pitching will look very much like what they’re aching to get rid of.

Go figure. Americans demanded health care reform in 2008 because people who were ill couldn’t get care because they simply couldn’t afford it. Even policies for healthy citizens were unaffordable and pushing businesses to the edge of financial disaster. The country was trapped in a spiral down of quality and affordability.

Here we are again. Eight years later, health insurance rates are higher than they ever have been, many Coloradans are getting less coverage than they did earlier because they’re trading higher deductibles for more affordable rates. The country is spending more on health care than ever and there is not only no end in sight, insurance companies are predicting big increases for the next round of hikes. Again.

The Affordable Care Act as written, doesn’t work. It can’t work. It can’t work because Congress kowtowed to a massive health care machine composed of endless factions and lobbies, many of whom provide only bureaucracy and not health care. It can’t work because Democrats caved to Republicans and refused to regulate prices and rates, which are now out of control. It can’t work because Democrats caved to Republicans and failed to create a “public option,” which was the country’s only hope for driving down market insurance prices. It can’t work because too many important insurance companies and too many states aren’t really participating in this volunteer experiment.

We are where we began because health care is too expensive for too many once again. In fact, it’s easy to argue that it’s un-afforadable for more people now than ever before. In a system that’s a gift to doctors and hospitals, which no longer have to dish out mountains of free care, no one is doing anything but raising rates again.

This newspaper and so many others have backed experts in the field vying for consumers and not industries in begging for a universal health care system like those in Canada and Europe. Because Democrats were too weak to do the right thing in 2009, this is what Americans were saddled with.

Democrats and Republicans need to set their spiteful partisan politics aside and add regulations and market competition to the ACA before scrapping it. Soon, the cost of health care will destroy the economy and the lives of millions of Americans. The ACA fails only because our elected leaders in Congress and the state legislature fail.

And prematurely killing the state health-care exchange is nothing but a sure way to speed up what looks to be impending disaster, or even causing more expensive rates for the same declining coverage Coloradans are getting now.