EDITORIAL: Colorado health care is too important to risk it with GOP obstruction — call a special session of the Legislature


Colorado Republicans have won at their game in slowing down the state lawmaking process this year in their scheme to obstruct legislation.

The losers, unfortunately, are all Colorado residents.

Days into the 120-day session, it became apparent Democrats — sweeping state elected offices —  had the votes to steamroll a bevy of bills. The measures, encompassing critical needs such as gun control, the environment, health care and much more are issues that Republicans have been able to stymie for the past several years because of a one-vote majority in the state Senate,

With the one-vote technical obstruction out of the way, Democrats moved fast on their agenda.

Unable to outvote anything, Colorado Republicans channeled their Washington counterparts. Sensing their own political disaster as Democrats began passing popular measures, Republicans resorted to using obscure rules of the state House and Senate to try and stop what they don’t like.

All the time-wasting stunts have pushed important bills to the end of the session. These Republican antics will now likely cost every Colorado resident money and heartache as the clock runs out against critical issues such as health care.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis opened the General Assembly in January with promises to deal with a dangerously failing health care system, which a dysfunctional Congress won’t address.

Few things are as critical for the Colorado Legislature.

Polis and Democrats have offered a wide range of proposals that offer real hope to middle-class Colorado residents seeing the cost of health care soar past their means and provide little real-world benefits.

Among those proposals are a so-called “re-insurance” proposal. That measure could segregate some high-risk health insurance customers, helping bring down costs for lower-risk customers in the general insurance pool.

Another proposal could allow Colorado residents to directly or indirectly purchase Canadian pharmaceuticals at far-lower Canadian prices.

Lawmakers have already created a transparency system, forcing hospitals and some providers to make clear where money raked in from insurance companies and patients actually goes.

The most meaningful proposal, however, would create a state-run insurance program for Colorado residents, at long last moving toward the critically needed “public option” and universal healthcare.

There is no way state lawmakers can successfully tackle these big-ticket items among myriad other bills and obstruction from Republicans — in less than a week.

Polis needs to call a special session.

A special session could focus on these health-care related items and others, including comprehensive sex education and school-age vaccination.

Those two important health-related items have become needlessly controversial. They both require time and focused attention to help lawmakers, Polis and the public separate fact from hyperbole and fiction, and make the right decision to protect millions of Colorado children from disease and other harm.

Removing these critical bills today from the mix and setting them aside ends the self-destructive temptation for Republicans to use the only tool they have to exert control over the will of the Legislature. It would allow other critical bills, many of them bi-partisan, to reach the end of the session with a chance of becoming law.

But most importantly, it would allow the Legislature to take the time and resources needed to give comprehensive and thoughtful exploration to the most important job lawmakers have right now: fixing the broken health care system in Colorado.

Call the special session. Remove outstanding health-care related bills. And finish the work of the people.